HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – Folks from southern Illinois may have to take a second look at this statue, which bears a striking resemblance to other statues associated with a certain grocery chain from long ago.
According to employees, Carmi’s Little Giant grocery store was never a Big John store, despite there being a former Big John statue out front. According to management at the Little Giant Grocery Outlet, the statue was bought after a number of Big John grocery stores were sold off.
According to Mark Bayley of Huck’s, Big John statues are still standing in Eldorado, Illinois, Metropolis, Illinois, Carmi, Illinois and Cape Coral, Florida. Bayley says a local musician and painter, Jimmy Boyd, did the original artwork for Big John statues and a company in Cape Girardeau built the first statue. Bayley says, the song “Big Bad John,” made famous by Jimmy Dean in 1961, became the theme song for the grocery chain, being played regularly over the store’s sound system.
Bayley says the chain was formerly known as Big Star, until founders Bob Martin and Frank Bayley came up with the name Big John to better reflect West Frankfort, Illinois’s coal mining community, which was one of many locations for the chain. Currently, only two Big John stores still exist – one in Metropolis and one in Eldorado.
The statue can be found at 1347 IL-1 in Carmi.
This is the first of a weekly twenty-one-part series that will help educate about some roadside attractions in the Eyewitness News viewing area. Check in every Sunday at 8 a.m. for the next one!