02 - Big Boy


Big Boy


No Sign Museum would be complete without a classic Big Boy statue. This Big Boy statue is special for a couple of reasons, for one it is from right here in Cincinnati. In Cincinnati we know Big Boy as Frisch's Big Boy, however if you're coming from almost anywhere else in the world you could know Big Boy by another name. For example notable locations include Bob's Big Boy in California, Elias Brothers Big Boy in Michigan, and even Shoney's restaurants all over the southeast. While Shoney's are no longer a big boy franchise, they used to be. In total there were nearly 30 big boys all over the United States selling classic Americana Cafe fare. 


What is really special to us is that this big boy is from the mid-to-late 1960s. That is important to us because it is right before they made a number of changes to the big boy.  For instance his hair is no longer red, it is now black or dark brown. The old stereotype was that red headed boys were a little more mischievous than the other kids, they were up to no good! Which would explain why he was running around with a 3D slingshot in his back pocket. The slingshot is very difficult to find anymore, and if you do find it on a big boy, it is very rarely a three-dimensional object like ours is. During this time they also changed his fashion. Instead of wearing stripes he now wears checkers.  And they also swapped out his saddle shoes for typically solid black, or a little less commonly solid blue, shoes. And maybe the saddest to change on the big boy is that he is no longer so big. They toned down his cheeks quite a bit, and made him drop a couple of pounds overall. It turns out it was not a very helpful advertising campaign to be showing off how unhealthy your food was.


While the Big Boy is fun, it is the changes that are important. In total, he ends up being a really neat time capsule. Through him you can see how styles, ideas, and fashion can change over time in society, and then they get reflected back through in the signage of the time.  And seeing signs like this allows us to use the signs as a reflection of society, and can teach us more about our past, and inform our future.


To continue on with the tour will move into the room that big boy is facing, towards the giant shoe.