Friday, November 6, 2009

The Green Man of Portland is Bigfoot

New artwork adorns the northwest streets of downtown Portland. These sculptures are creations of local artist Daniel Duford and they all feature an image or reference to the Green Man. The Green Man is a subject near and dear to Bigfoot, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

In a nutshell, the Green Man of Portland is really the pagan Woodosa or Woodwose, which translates to the Wildman of the Woods, which is where we got the Jolly Green Giant, who is really a Bigfoot played by Kevin Bacon. Okay, Kevin Bacon is excessive, but today’s post on Bigfoot Lore really feels like the game six degrees of Kevin Bacon. So you will have to forgive us for being a little “footloose” with the associations in this post.

Without Further Ado Here we go.

Let’s start with the Wildman of the Woods, AKA the Woodosa. The Woodosa is a mythological figure that appears in the artwork and literature of medieval Europe. The wild man can be described as a long-haired bearded man covered with hair from the neck down, he is often armed with a club, he considered the spirit that watches over the well being of the woods.

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The Green Man is often seen alongside the Woodosa, although he watches over agricultural concerns. Almost identical to the Woodosa, the Green Man has a face surrounded leaves, branches, and vines that often seem to sprout his mouth and nostrils.

The Woodosa and Green Man remained mostly just as decorated sculptures for centuries until they reemerged as advertising trademarks for modern American agriculture. One incarnation was the California Giant Lettuce company and the other is a more famous icon known as the Jolly Green Giant.

This story of these two advertising icons is neatly summarized in Loren Coleman’s Book “Bigfoot! : The True Story of Apes in America”

“However, one image, familiar to most of us, parallels the California Giant, which we must not ignore. This would be the Jolly Green Giant…
…in 1903, Green Giant was founded in Le Suer, Minnesota, as the Minnesota Valley Canning Company. In 1925, a pale, boy-like figure with a leafy bit of clothing was introduced to market the company’s new line of giant, sweet, early green peas. The name Green Giant for this marketing image soon followed, with the giants figure’s skin then turning green. Eventually the Green Giant came to symbolize not only the peas, but the company as well. In 1950, Minnesota Valley canning Company disappeared and became officially the Green Giant Company. Today the Jolly Green Giant is the name of the giant figure, having evolved from the youthful figure of 1925.”

Okay, so these are all versions of the Wildman, what about Bigfoot? The Wildman myth permeates all cultures and histories. Where do these memories come from? A time when we were closer to other bipedal apes that lived among us? Sightings of the Wildman are almost non-existent; in fact they seem to disappear sometime after Charles Darwin published his theory. Perhaps sightings of the Wildman have not disappeared, but merely replaced by a better model. Replaced by a yet undiscovered hairy hominid we call Bigfoot.

For your entertainment we have provided Jolly Green Giant Commercials from three different decades; the 1950’s, 60’s, and 80’s.


  1. Fascinating stuff. The earliest Green Giant is terrifying and primal. You can see how the advertisers worked to tame this fearsomeness, first by showing him interacting gently with the tiny animated figures in the second ad, and offering him up as a stuffed child's plaything. The final step was to re-imagine him as a childlike Sprout, a miniaturized and sweetly engaging version of the huge, remote figure that played into our deepest fears of the wilderness. Only by making him childlike and small could he be acceptable as an advertising icon in the 1980s, due to the sociopolitical forces at work in the last days of the Cold War. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for the great analysis of my work. I really want to make that connection with primordial Wild Man character of which Bigfoot is a part.


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