March 24, 2011

R.I.P. World's Largest Meat Cleaver - Topeka, KS

I've talked before about the tragedy of disappearing roadside attractions and how sometimes my trips to see them end in disappointment. Most recently I wrote about the missing Muffler Man of Kansas City, Kansas. Sadly, I have another roadside attraction to add to the list of those fading from the fair Midwest - the World's Largest Meat Cleaver in Topeka, Kansas.

The World's Largest Meat Cleaver used to be at the corner of 6th Street and Jackson Street in downtown Topeka. It was not the only oversized roadside attraction in the Kansas capitol city - I have written previously about my visit to see the World's Largest Wren. But sadly my search for the meat cleaver came too late. It was first moved to Topeka in 2006 but by 2009 it was nowhere to be found.

I did a bit of research and found that the meat cleaver was part of a downtown topeka art project known as "Art in the Heart of Topeka" by Downtown Topeka Inc., the Future Heritage of Topeka Inc., and Washburn University.

The meat cleaver was officially called "Untitled II" and was created by Robert Craig, then an associate professor of art and the chairman of the Department of Art and Design at University of Iowa. The work was part of a series called "Skeuomorphic Works," in which he would take utilitarian objects (like a meat cleaver) and construct them on a larger scale. Craig explained his project, "My interest is equally sustained by awareness that these objects were designed for hand use and they are artifacts of a time when technology was still largely dependent on manual processes." His other works can be found throughout the country. "Untitled I" is currently in Skokie, Illinois, which I think is supposed to be an antique ship rudder. "Untitled III" is in North Carolina, and I think it is either a woodchipper or a pizza cutter.

As for the fate of "Untitled II" or the World's Largest Meat Cleaver, I have absolutely no idea where it has gone to.

Total Time Traveled: 1 hour
Total Distance Traveled: 54 miles
Soundtrack: "The Meanest of Times" Dropkick Murphys



  1. Wouldn't it be funny if I simply got lost in a giant knife drawer somewhere?

  2. Or perhaps it was taken by the same gnomes who always steal my left sock from the dryer. Never the right one. It's always the left one that goes missing.

  3. That's such an interesting concept to make a giant replicas of everyday objects. And a giant meat cleaver is even more interesting because it seems like such a random object to choose. It is sad that it has disappeared. I wonder what was done with it?

  4. My favorite artist to make giant replicas of everyday objects is actually pop artist Claes Oldenburg. He made the Shuttlecocks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, which was actually the first post on this blog!