Hot Dog Muffler Man.

Hot Dog Muffler Man

Field review by the editors.

Atlanta, Illinois

Type: Classic (20 ft. tall)

Hot Dog Muffler Man.

Arm position: Standard

Accessories: Hot dog and bun

Nickname: Bunyon

The Hot Dog Muffler Man had his origins in the town of Cicero, outside Chicago, where he stood outside a meat-focused restaurant named "Bunyon's" for nearly 40 years (You can read our original report here). Owner Hamlet A. Stephens augmented his food business with the eye-catching Muffler Man, ordered with a custom giant hot dog accessory (likely from International Fiberglass in California). It proved to be an effective advertisement; Hamlet told us that his most popular menu item was the hot dog.

The "Bunyon's" name confused us, and we tried to explain to Hamlet that a "Bunyan" Muffler Man was clearly defined by a heavy beard and wool cap, both absent on the one holding the hot dog. Hamlet didn't care. As far as he was concerned both his business and Muffler Man evoked the mighty tree-biter with "Bunyon's" -- a misspelling that was part oversight and part-trademark differentiation.

Bunyon's closed when Hamlet turned 80 on October 26, 2002, but his Muffler Man didn't retire. Several towns vied for the big statue and Atlanta, Illinois, eventually got him, promising to display the man, his bun, and his wiener prominently on a downtown street as a symbol of Route 66. The Muffler Man was bolted onto his new spot late in 2003, and he's stood there ever since, successfully serving as one of the Mother Road's easternmost ambassadors and most celebrated quirky attractions. Informational signs explain his history, and recall his meaty origins in Cicero.

Hamlet died in June 2012, living long enough to see his "Bunyon" established as a Mother Road must-see. The Muffler Man has secured Hamlet's legacy, although people who've just see photos of the big guy (or who visit but don't bother to read the signs) must wonder why he's clutching a giant hot dog.

Hot Dog Muffler Man

The Bunyon Giant

Address:
Arch St., Atlanta, IL
Directions:
I-55 exit 140. Drive west on Hwy 25 into town, and continue straight on South St. Turn right onto Arch St. The Bunyon Giant will be on the left.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Palm's Grille Cafe - Route 66Palm's Grille Cafe - Route 66, Atlanta, IL - < 1 mi.
Mattingly Automotive: Official Route 66 MechanicMattingly Automotive: Official Route 66 Mechanic, Atlanta, IL - < 1 mi.
Smiley Face Water TowerSmiley Face Water Tower, Atlanta, IL - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Uniroyal Gal: Vanna Whitewall, Peoria, IL - 35 mi.

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June 18, 2019

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