Hot Dog Muffler Man

When I started doing travel writing back in 2000, one of the early trips that I did and wrote about was a road trip along Route 66 through Illinois. We started in the south suburbs and worked our way south making stops in all kinds of small towns and ending in St. Louis. 

I remember being at a program at my local library where a couple was speaking about Route 66 and that's when I first learned about muffler men - these oversized fiberglass figures that are all a little unique. Most have the same stance and facial features since they came from one large mold. They were often placed outside of muffler shops to lure in customers and that's where the name comes from.

The majority of them were built from 1962 to 1976 and the first one was a Paul Bunyan figure made for the Lumberjack Cafe in Flagstaff, Arizona. I've stopped to see a few of them over the years - sometimes taking a little detour to seek them out as we've traveled, finding them in Wisconsin Dells, Cicero, Il and Springfield. 

This year I added two more to my list. The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, IL and the Hot Dog Muffler Man in Atlanta, IL. 

I went a little out of my way to have a meal at the Launching Pad Drive-In where the Gemini Giant, an astronaut muffler man stands in the parking lot. Sadly, I arrived to find that the business is closed. A few months later on a trip home from Springfield, I stopped to see this guy in Atlanta, IL. He's not connected to a business that I know of, but is in the middle of a block on the sidewalk. Just around the corner is a nice little Route 66-themed park. Since he's holding a hot dog, I figured he fit in with the whole food blog thing. :) If you are ever headed down Route 66 in Illinois, stop and see some of the muffler men along the way.