This is Howard Huge, until now Howard has been one of a handful, and growing number of Muffler Men, that exist, but are unknown by Muffler Men followers. During the 1960s and early 70s, International Fiberglass manufactured hundreds of these giants and now, 50 years later, around 200 are still known to exist. However, many unknown and undocumented survivors still lay in storage across American waiting for their owners to make their existence known, or a Muffler Man follower to find them.
International Fiberglass started out making the classic Paul Bunyan, and these soon proved to be wildly popular because of the revenue they generated for businesses. Today the Bunyans are still the most common of the giants, and 53 of them are still standing and visible to the public. The first Muffler Man was such a success that the company went on to modify that version, creating 5 other options, as well as offering to make custom giants as well.
Hundreds of Cowboy versions were made for businesses as well as the Phillips 66 Oil Company and 31 of these cowboys still exist and stand today. A Alfred Neuman character was made called a Snerd (known today also as a “half wit”) and 14 of this version can still be found. A standard service man version was made for gas stations, without the bunyan hat and boots, and 33 of this type are still around. The mold was heavily modified at one point to make American Indians. They made a chief and brave version that differed slightly, and 29 of these can still be found today. A unique raised arm Muffler Man was made to advertise a auto repair shops ability to bend and make mufflers, and these were called “Mr Bendo” and only 7 of these can still be found. International also made a 14 ft version of the giant which turned out to be a poor seller and was only sold in 1963 and 1964 but surprisingly 17 of these survive.
If you look carefully at the Muffler Man survivors of today, you will notice that 6 of them have a bow tie instead of a standard collar. This seemed to have been an option that the company offered, that a few customers opted for. About 12 of the giants in America are what we call custom or one of a kind giants made special to meet the customers exact needs. One such giant is known as Casey Jones and he was probably made for a railroad themed amusement park or museum in Boyne Falls, MI back in the late 60s or early 70s. Today he stands at the Ed Lowe foundation holding a giant oil can in Cassopolis Michigan. Ed Lowe purchased the giant at an auction in the mid 70s, and moved him to the foundations camp area, where Casey is surrounded by railroad cars. He is one of a kind with a unique style hat that we considered the only one of it’s kind until just recently.
People often share with me their memories of Muffler Men from the 70s and 80s and I keep records of all these memories, locations and sightings, even if the giants no longer exist in that spot. A few years ago I was contact by a Muffler Man follower from New York named Rachael. Rachael runs a blog called fuzzygalore.com and she has been riding motorcycles and visiting roadside attractions for over 20 years. She told me that her husband remembered seeing a blue and red Muffler Man in the small town of Oakland Maine at the corner of Fairfield and Kennedy many years ago. I made a note of the sighting and thought no more of it until August 2017 when I first saw pictures of Howard and started to piece his story together.
Howard’s early life is still unknown and we are still in the process of trying to piece it together and obtain early pictures of him. He one was probably manufactured sometime after 1966, and is one of the rare bow tie versions. He us unique in that he is also one of the custom jobs done by International Fiberglass and has a unique hat like the Muffler Man in Cassopolis. It is not known who ordered him originally but early reports say he stood at a Mobile gas station in Oakland Maine in the 70s and possibly late 60s. He was purchased used sometime between 1976-1978 by Marden’s Surplus and Salvage Company and named “Howard Huge”. The giant was used outside a few different store fronts, primarily Waterville and Bangor in the 70s and 80s. When the company continued to grow and open more stores, the use of the giant was discontinued and he was put in storage sometime in the early 1990s. He has been stored indoors since that time and is in very good condition with just a few common scrapes and scuff marks that comes with moving and age. He also has as a few small cracks under his arms.
When we were contacted by Marden’s in August 2017 we quickly made the connection to Rachael’s husbands sighting, and for the first time, got to see pictures of the long lost giant. He is a rare and unique find, in great condition for his age and the best part is, the owners were willing to sell him. Although he had sentimental value and reminds them of their early days, the owners realize that they woulden’t ever display him again, and that he would be better off with someone who would. American Giants an auction for him that ended on December 10, 2017 and the giant is now headed to a much warmer climate!