Western Exterminator Company's "Little Man"

Few signs around Phoenix are as eye-catching as Western Exterminator Company's "Little Man."

The "Little Man" is really anything but -- the fiberglass figure of a man in a top hat holding a hammer behind his back stands nearly 10 feet tall, and hovers over 24th Street from about 20 feet above. His top hat is visible from two blocks away. So how did this large fellow become known as the "Little Man"?

Perhaps he needed a nickname because his official name, "Kernel Kleenup," sounds like the title of someone who cleans sewers on a corn farm.

"The Little Man" was created by artist Vaughn Kaufman in 1931. Western Exterminating Company was founded 10 years prior in Los Angeles, California, and felt they needed a logo and mascot. And so "Kernel Kleenup" was created.

The name didn't stick. Company employees kept referring to the mascot as "The Little Man with the Hammer," and even after WEC held a TV contest to re-name him in 1964, he remained "The Little Man."

Today, Western Exterminating Company has multiple locations in California and Nevada, but to our knowledge, the WEC office near 24th and Pierce streets is the only Arizona location -- and thus, the only place in the Valley to see "The Little Man."

"The Little Man" is located in front of Western Exterminating Company, 618 N. 24th Street.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea

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