You're driving east in the middle of southern Minnesota. You're on Interstate 90, just north of the Iowa border. You jolt past Jackson. Fairmont has come and gone. Next stop: Blue Earth.
Don't let the name fool you. Green is the focus here.
On Highway 169 in town (next to a Dairy Queen), there is a 55-foot statue of the third most recognizable advertising icon of the 20th century: the Jolly Green Giant. Only Ronald McDonald and the Marlboro Man are more recognizable. Fast food and cigarettes trump vegetables once again.
The Green Giant character was created in 1925 for the Minnesota Valley Canning Company -- located in nearby LeSeuer -- which was eventually renamed after the giant because he was so popular.
The statue was erected in 1978 in Blue Earth to coincide with the opening of I-90 across southern Minnesota, which at the time completed the longest four-lane road in the U.S., stretching from Boston to Seattle.
Green Giant says about 10,000 visitors hop out of their car each year to visit old salad head. No word if a much smaller Sprout statue will ever … sprout … up.
No. 1: The Jimmy Carter Peanut - Plains, Georgia
You're driving west in southwest Georgia. You're on U.S. Highway 280. After getting off Interstate 75, you left Cordele, Leslie and Americus behind. Next stop: Plains.
You know this place. It's part of American history: the hometown of former President James Earl Carter. But you're not here to see him. Or pick up a can of Billy Beer. Of paramount importance is the ultra-freaky Jimmy Carter smiling peanut statue.
It's in front of the Davis E-Z shop on Highway 45. At 13-feet tall, it's a grinning reminder of our toothy leader -- who came from peanut-farming obscurity to become the most powerful man on the planet.
Three Indiana residents crafted the statue during a Carter political visit to Evanston in 1976. It’s made from a series of wooden hoops and covered with chicken wire, polyurethane and aluminum foil.
Local residents figure the goober goliath is the most photographed thing in town. And why not? It simply makes you smile.