TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An Alabama McDonald’s restaurant caused some buzz online after it unveiled a new attraction at its location: a giant statue of a boll weevil.
But this wasn’t just any old weevil. This was the McWeevil, modeled after McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald.
Several people showed up to the big “Weeveal” in the McDonald’s in the city of Enterprise, Alabama — including the city’s mayor, William Cooper.
This is the 26th boll weevil statue set up across town as part of Enterprise’s “Weevil Way.” Previous weevil statues included “Mayor Weevil,” “Farmer Bo Weevil,” and “Nellie the Negotiator,” who does real estate.
While some have embraced the McWeevil as a colorful addition to the set of characters, others said they found the new statue a bit creepy.
“I think the boll weevils are cute … Except this one, this one isn’t it,” one commentator said.
Others on social media made memes of the McWeevil, including a picture of the six-legged clown as Pennywise from the movie “It.”
But why a weevil? What would possess a city to celebrate a crop-destroying insect from Mexico?
Turns out, the boll weevil helped contribute to the success of Enterprise and Coffee County, Alabama, as an agricultural powerhouse.
The Smithsonian Magazine said that as the invasive weevils made their way across the South, many farmers tried to eradicate the pests with pesticides to stop the devastation of the U.S. cotton industry.
For the people of Enterprise, the answer was shifting to peanuts, a crop that was immune to the ravages of the boll weevil.
By 1919, Coffee County was the number one producer of peanuts in the United States and the first in the Wiregrass region to produce peanut oil.
As the rest of the South continued to combat the weevil, Enterprise enjoyed a diversified agricultural landscape including potatoes, sugar cane, and even tobacco.
In honor of the weevil’s contribution to the city of Enterprise, a more traditional monument was erected in 1919.
The current statue, located in downtown Enterprise, features a woman holding the insect above her head.
A nearby historical marker bears this inscription: “In profound appreciation of the boll weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity, this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama.”
Today, boll weevils have been largely eradicated from the South. The Encyclopedia of Alabama states that the last weevil captured in Alabama was in 2003.