This happy halfwitMortimer Snerd style Muffler Man and his super-cute giraffe friend can be found standing outside of Arnold’s Family Fun Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania.
Is it just me or does this muffler man look kind of shrug-y? Like his neck is too short. Or maybe his traps are huge. Either way, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed that before on any of the other guys. Maybe he carries all his stress in his shoulders.
Something about that darn giraffe’s face is so sweet to me I just want to huggo the stuffin’ outta him. And the way he’s got that hind leg kicked back like a show dog? ::chef’s kiss:: Magnificent.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating with each muffler man visit; it is fascinating to see what details a painter will highlighton a muffler man. The outlined choppers on this bad boy are a nice touch. It isn’t uncommon to see the Snerds with a gap-toothed smile. Instead, he’s giving piano keys with lips reminiscent of latter year Michael Jackson. It’s a lot.
Prior to this perch, this halfwit muffler man stood on the Seaside Heights, New Jersey boardwalk where he was cast off with other debris from Superstorm Sandy. Roadside America has a photograph of him laying prone in a heap. While a parking lot in Pennsylvania might not be as exciting as the boardwalk at Seaside, this relocation to Oaks is nonetheless a triumphant return for the scrappy giant.
Plus? Giraffe. Giraffe is a win.
In the time that I have had a conscious interest in muffler men it’s been wonderful to see more and more people documenting, restoring and caring about these bastions of Americana. Social media has certainly contributed positively to continuing their legacy.
Looking for some place to road trip to? Why not pick a place that combines two magical options – ice cream and a muffler man?
Say hello to Chip, the ice cream scoop wielding giant who welcomes you to The Inside Scoop in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. This place is a roadtrippers trifecta. Roadside giant, delicious ice cream and a fab neon sign to boot. What’s not to love?
But before I knew that muffler men were indeed referred to as muffler men, I knew that they existed in a peripheral sense. You see, we have a muffler man Indian here on Long Island. I’d passed the Elmsford, NY Bunyan many times and mini-golfed with a halfwit in Seaside Heights, NJ.
Muffler men have long been a part of my universe. They were simply waiting for me to wake up to them.
Muffler Men – The Same But Different
Now, I’m sharp enough to know that some people think my level of interest and muffler man visitation is a waste of energy. The idea of traveling around and looking at big dumb fiberglass statues that “look the same” as all the other big dumb fiberglass statues I’ve seen before is ridiculous. But who needs that kind of negativity in their lives?
Yes, it’s true that they share the same basic DNA. And yet, these same-old-same-olds do have their own personalities, if you will. Each with little details that set them apart from one another that the uninformed might not be aware of. From accessories like hats, hamburgers, eyelashes and chest hair, the giants do have their own unique flair.
It has also occurred to me that each one is infused with the flavor of their locale. They take on the vibe of their surroundings as they become infused with the landscape, neighborhood, or the personality of the owner.
You hear it all the time, “people are the same everywhere.” Hell, I’ve said it myself and meant it. But that sentiment is both true and false depending on the parameters and nuance you wrap around it. The same is true for big fiberglass people. They’re all the same, but different.
Take a moment to consider the thought process of the person charged with repainting the Uniontown, Pa. muffler man. They looked at his face, squinted their eyes and said “something is missing…”
And then someone somewhere else looked at the Lake George, NY Around the World mini-golf muffler man and said, “Yeah! Him, too! …but only on the right eye.”
Tales of Muffler Men Resurrection
When cruising around if I know a muffler man is close by, even if I’ve previously visited, I will typically stop to see what’s doing.
Over time the overall condition of the giants will change due to wind, sun, storms,… people hitting them with their cars. When you pull up to find one repaired or in better condition then when you last saw it, I’m not gonna lie – it’s kind of exciting. It’s heartwarming when someone loves what you love.
Having passed by the Hancock, Massachusetts giant a few times over the years, I got to witness his resurrection. He’d been suffering from a terrible case of the peels and it was great to see him freshly painted again.
Check out his blue bowtie – now red, nails on fleek, and sporting a fresh baseball cap.
Just look at those beautifully manicured nails!
Elmsford, New York
Another case of a giant who needed some TLC was the Elmsford, New York Bunyan. He stood armless for years. This spring (2021) when I stopped by, I was glad to see he’s got at least one ticket to the gun show again.
Sadly, the green-eyed giant is now starting to peel.
The first time that I pulled up to the House of Doors in Cheshire, Connecticut years ago I was surprised to find nothing more than a pair of muffler pants. Doh!
Saved! The muff was returned to flag holding service!
He too was little more than a pair of muffler pants for a while.
Thankfully, Long Island’s beloved giant was repaired and is back to waving at the traffic in the town of Riverhead, NY.
Muffler Men on the Move
As well-loved as muffler men are, it isn’t surprising that enthusiasts and collectors buy and move the giants from their long-term locations to new locales. Sometimes they move clear across the country.
And then sometimes, they just up and disappear altogether.
The Big White Guy of Massachusetts
This fella, previously referred to colloquially as “Plantation Man” as he stood outside of the Plantation Inn in Chicopee, Massachusetts – was sold at auction and then turned up in nearby Agawam, Mass. He stood there for a short time and is now MIA.
From Mecca to Joshua Tree, California
In 2016, I visited a muffler man who stood in the town of Mecca, California along the Salton Sea.
If you too love muffler men keep scrolling for more photos of the big guys I’ve seen in my travels. Buckle up, there’s a lot to look at!
Say, hello to Stan from Birmingham, Alabama. He’s a gemini and like lifting invisible weights. Hiiiii Stannnnn.
I’ll be honest – there is something a bit creepy about the dead black-eyed stare and drawn on mustache of the Planada, Calfornia muffler man. It’s a wee bit, I dunno,… murdery? I believe this guy may have been sold or moved.
Hope you enjoyed this trip down road trip muffler man memory lane. If you’re interested in finding out about the history of, the latest news, and location maps for muffler men, these sites are excellent resources for more information:
Joel Baker Presentation: The Fall and Rise of the American Giant
If you were unable to attend the Society for Commercial Archeology Zoom event of Joel Baker’s The Fall and Rise of the American Giant, the recorded presentation is available for viewing on the org’s website. Follow along as Joel talks about how his passionate pursuit began, learn about the history of Muffler Men and some exciting news about a museum!
The muffler man of Mentone, California stands watch over the desert valley from behind a fence in someone’s front yard. The plaque on his middle, like an ersatz giant belt buckle says “Outboard Inn, Mentone Beach.”
With his baseball bat at the ready it seems like he’s ready to rough any wayward trespassers up. Doesn’t he look like the type of guy that might tell someone they’re “cruisin’ for a bruisin’“?
Look at him! You just know he tells dad jokes. Or maybe lights his own farts on fire with a lighter. You can totally see that, right? It’s the stifled, sly smile.
The hot desert sun has bleached this poor fellas irises to a rusty orange tone. Either that or he’s really seen some stuff. It was 2020 when I visited, after all.
The Buyan spends his time amongst other interesting Mentone Beach-dwellers like a soldier in the Giant Chicken Army on the roof (naturally) and a Statue of Liberty head. Not to mention a bevy of outboard motors, antique car wheels, and a mountain of other yard junk.
If you take a look at the Google Maps streetview, you can get an idea of what’s doin’ in that yard. It’s quite something!
Though it was very tempting to try to get a peek over the fence, I heard dogs on the property so I opted to keep my distance. I’m sure they get plenty of visitors stopping for a look, but I wasn’t interested in being mauled. And when visiting these types of private home stops, even though they are a spectacle, I feel it’s important to respect their space.
Thank heaven for the weirdos. They keep life colorful.