Roadside attractions are all about the showmanship, and few things draw a crowd like claiming that something is the biggest in the world.
Of course, holding onto that claim is no easy task. Something about creating over-sized attractions seems to breed a certain competitiveness among people, leading to oddities that compete for the same title: largest lobster; largest garden gnome; most giant ball of twine.
Below are eight roadside attractions that are competing to be the largest. You can decide for yourself who the real winners are.
The Largest Lobsters
There are two giant roadside lobsters that want to be the biggest catch. One, a giant crustacean living in an artist’s village in Florida, is around 40 feet long and named “Betsy.” Then there is the self-proclaimed “world’s largest lobster” in Shediac, Canada, which is over 30 feet long, and has a little fisherman standing just inside of its claws. Depending on how you measure them, either could probably claim the title, but either way they are both pretty impressive specimens.
The Largest Frying Pans
Breakfast, anyone? No matter how hungry you are, America’s rival oversize griddles could make a meal large enough to sate your appetite. The giant frying pan in Long Beach, Washington has a surface measuring nine feet and six inches across. It is a replica of an oversized metal pan that was once made so a woman could strap bacon to her feet and skate across it. Then you have the largest frying pan in Iowa, somewhat of a pretender to the throne to world’s largest. It’s a bit smaller than its Washington counterpart at nine-foot-three from rim to rim, but a hilariously large pan nonetheless.
The Largest Garden Gnomes
Gnomes are known for being small, but there are at least a few that are trying to be the world’s largest. In Accord, New York, there is the 13-foot-six “Gnome Chomsky,” who is part of a farm-based mini-golf course. Built in 2006, Chomsky briefly held the title of world’s largest garden gnome, but has since been overshadowed. In Ames, Iowa, there is “Elwood,” a 15-foot-tall garden gnome that would still be the tallest were it not for an 18-foot fiberglass rival in Poland. Now Elwood is known as the largest concrete gnome. Still a fine distinction.
The Largest Balls of Twine
The giant ball of twine is the quintessential roadside attraction—both impressive and a bit silly. So it’s no surprise that there is more than one vying for the title of world’s largest. In Cawker City, Kansas there is a big ball of string that measures over 11 feet wide. Over in Darwin, Minnesota, there is another 13-foot-wide ball that once claimed to be the world’s largest, but has now recontextualized itself as the world’s largest twine ball created by one man. No one knows what the point of such a ball could be, but they sure are nice to look at.
The Largest Fire Hydrants
The world’s largest fire hydrants might not have any water flowing through them, but what they lack in moisture they make up for in stature. The original largest hydrant, which measures 24 feet tall, was created as a stunt to promote 101 Dalmations and somehow ended up in Beaumont, Texas where it has been on display ever since. But then a 40-foot-tall hydrant was installed in Columbia, South Carolina, a work of public art by local artist Blue Sky. They’ve both held the title of world’s largest, but it’s unclear if this has made them any more popular with canines.
The Largest Eggs
Not even the dinosaurs had eggs as large as the contenders for world’s largest egg. In Winlock, Washington, a 12-foot-long egg is perched on a 10-foot pedestal. It has been rebuilt a number of times since its first appearance in the 1920s to celebrate the area’s booming egg industry. And in Mentone, Indiana is a similar monument to their own egg industry, a 10-foot-tall ovoid emblazoned with a picture of the state, and the city nickname, The Egg Basket of the Midwest. Both have yet to hatch or even crack.
The Largest Chairs
The battle of the largest chair may be the most contested competition in all of roadside attraction history. Countless giant chairs have been created all over the world, as both attractions and pieces of carpenters’ showmanship. In Anniston, Alabama there is a 33-foot tall chair (with a 15-square foot seat), that holds the claim to the world’s largest office chair, while in Casey, Illinois you can find the world’s largest rocking chair, which stretches over 56 feet high.
The Largest Crosses
Giant Christ figures can be found across the globe, but giant crosses are a thing too. The most commonly cited winner of largest cross in the world is The Cross At The Crossroads in Effingham, Illinois. At 198 feet tall, it makes a compelling case, but there is an even taller cross in St. Augustine, Florida that is over 200 feet tall, giving it a claim as the world’s tallest—even if it can’t hold onto the world’s largest. Both of them are impressive displays of faith nonetheless.