Muncie history: Garfield to The Ball Brothers

History Garfield Muncie

Muncie, the birth place to Garfield and home of Ball jars, is home to lots of history.

DealChicken spends a lot of time hunting an pecking around Muncie for the best daily deals. In the process, he’s come across some characters and history. Garfield, Close Encounters and Paul Bunyan just to name a few.

Muncie, Indiana is the home of Jim Davis, creator of the popular cartoon character and series, Garfield. In honor of the lasagna-loving cat’s 25h birthday, the city of Muncie erected no fewer than eleven Garfield statues—which visitors can view on an official Garfield statue trail.

Rather than hunt and peck all across the nation for America’s typical small town, just head straight over to Muncie, Indiana. Sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd chose Muncie as the location for their groundbreaking 1929 study of a small American city and its citizens’ response to 20th century modernization. Their book, Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture, became a national bestseller, and Muncie’s official nickname remains “Middletown” today. 

Ever wonder why they’re called Ball jars? The Ball Brothers Company saw an opportunity to switch from manufacturing aluminum cans with wooden jackets for lard, oil and paint to glass jars with seal-tight metal lids after the Mason patent expired in the 1870s. They relocated their operation from Buffalo, NY to Muncie, Indiana in the 1880s to  take advantage of the region’s gas boom. 

The tallest people on earth might start to feel petite in Muncie, home to a rather large number of oversized statues for a town famous for being small. There’s the Muffler Man off Exit 41 on Interstate 69—affectionately known as “Big Jack,” this imposing marketing ploy used to shill for Jack Smith and Son's RV Sales. Muncie’s Oasis Bar boasts a gigantic bouncer: a much larger-than-life Larry Bird statue, the Timbers Lounge still employs the old Kirby Wood Lumber Co. lumberjack/Paul Bunyan statue (after all, he works cheap), and a Tin Man big enough to scare any witch stands sentry outside Dawson & Sons Sheet Metal. Muncie also boasts oversized fake fauna, in the form of a giant frog (which lives at the Ceramic Tile and Carpet on Granville Ave.), and a huge purple hippo near the pet store in the center of town.

Muncie’s National Model Aviation Museum, part of the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) replicates a 1950's hobby shop, including a realistic front exterior facade, to showcase their collection of rare, unbuilt model kits. If not for the ancient telephone on the wall the mannequin manning the counter, you might forget you’re not in a real store.

If you ever find yourself in a hurry to go fishing, don’t take a shortcut through the cemetery—carrying tackle just might earn you some jail time, thanks to an old law that still in the Muncie rule book.

Ball State University was not always rolling in state funds... the Ball brothers bought the Administration Building and surrounding 731 acres of land out of foreclosure for $35,100 in 1917.

Much of the action in Stephen Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind takes place in Muncie—the film’s protagonist (played by Richard Dreyfuss) is an Indiana lineman who calls Muncie home.

While robbing his way across the midwest, legendary bank robber John Dillinger made several stops in Muncie, first to clean out the coffers at the Bide-A-Wee roadhouse and then to hole up in a Council Street boarding house.

Already know Muncie history, Garfield, Ball jars and more? Check out our fun facts about Cincinnati.