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Pillsbury History

“Bicep Doughboy” image found at former Springfield Pillsbury plant

Friends,

Moving Pillsbury Forward is excited to announce that we have found an early doughboy image from the former Springfield Pillsbury Plant. Please contact us if you have any helpful information to add to our research on this image. We want to get the history and record of this image documented as accurately as possible.

The “Bicep Doughboy” found at the former Springfield Pillsbury plant is perhaps the earliest, and rarest known version of the iconic Pillsbury Doughboy. The “Bicep Doughboy” was found on a control panel door in the bakery mix portion of the former Springfield Pillsbury plant in early December 2022. The bakery mix area of the plant was built in 1949 and the panel is of unknown age at this time (March 2023). More research is needed to verify the age of the panel. The image likely dates to 1965 or earlier.

The “Bicep Doughboy” was found on a control panel door in the bakery mix portion of the former Springfield Pillsbury plant in early December 2022.
“Bicep Doughboy” on a control panel door in the bakery mix area
The “Bicep Doughboy” found at the former Springfield Pillsbury plant
The “Bicep Doughboy”

The official Pillsbury Company story is that the Pillsbury Doughboy was created by a Chicago advertising agency hired by Pillsbury in 1965. Locally, however, employees of the former Pillsbury Mills plant in Springfield, Illinois tell a different story. They have reported that a Springfield plant employee sketched the original doughboy image.

The story the employees have reported is that an employee working at the plant sketched the original doughboy and placed many of his sketches at various locations around the plant. Most everyone working at the plant loved seeing them. Later, he placed a sketch in a company suggestion box, and eventually Pillbury paid him for the idea. This is said to have happened in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s.

Is our new found “Bicep Doughboy” one of these original sketches? Well, more research is needed. What we do know is that the employee stories and the physical evidence are compelling arguments for the doughboy being a Springfield original. At this point, it is hard to know for sure but, the doughboy may well have been born in Springfield and turned into a wolrd-wide advertising icon in Chicago.

Chris Richmond
President, Moving Pillsbury Forward
pillsburyproject.org

PS: Moving Pillsbury Forward will be a guest on AM Springfield (Sports Radio 1450 AM) at 7:10 am, Wednesday, March 8th. The “Bicep Doughboy” will be the focal topic. Please tune-in/call-in as we work to advance our understanding of the doughboy story and this important piece of Springfield history.