Harry Houdini put the rabbit in Jack Rabbit Beans

March 24, 2014

Fall in Saginaw

Fall in Saginaw, photo by Urban Gurl

March 24 is Harry Houdini’s birthday and a great time to share the story of Harry Houdini and Jack Rabbit Beans via Waymarking.com:

We showed up at 9:00 am, after a two hour drive, to take a little tour of a few neon gems in Saginaw, MI. Our tour guide was local historian Thomas Mudd. This was the first one on our tour. After our tour, we spent the day looking around until it was time to go back for the night shots. According to Mr. Mudd, you can thank Harry Houdini for this sign.

Houdini performed the “Rabbit-in-the-hat-act” at the Jeffers-Strand Theater in Saginaw in the late 1920’s. He needed a volunteer and whoever helped him would get to keep the rabbit. A young girl named Phyllis R. Symons volunteered, and when the act was over she waited for her rabbit.

Houdini tried to get her off stage and told her he would give her something else afterwards. But she would not leave the stage until she received the rabbit. Houdini eventually gave her the rabbit, which in 1937 would become the symbol of Jack Rabbit Beans. Phyllis’ father, Albert L. Reidel, co-founded Port Huron-based Producers Elevator Co. It later became Michigan Bean Co., the maker of Jack Rabbit Beans.

Sadly, Phyllis could not keep the rabbit in town, so it got sent to her grandparents in Minden City. They too were unable to put up with the rambunctious bunny, and one day Phyllis and her parents paid a visit and found the rabbit on the menu. Phyllis was in shock that they could eat the rabbit. Albert Reidel thought it was funny.

Check Kimberly’s photo out big as a building and see more in her Michigan slideshow.

There’s more history and more Saginaw on Michigan in Pictures!

4 Responses to “Harry Houdini put the rabbit in Jack Rabbit Beans”

  1. photocrawf Says:

    Good morning Andy. A side note on this: Wondering if the guide mentioned “Our tour guide was local historian Thomas Mudd” was in fact a descendant of THE Dr Mudd who was recently exonerated, I believe, of any conspiracy in the Lincoln assassination and apparently the namesake for the expression “your name is mud”?
    Chuck Crawford
    Crawf@photocrawf.com

  2. farlane Says:

    Don’t know Chuck – that would be a pretty wild coincidence though!

  3. Robert Woodland Says:

    The fact that Al Riedel would laugh does not surprise me a great deal. I acted as his fishing guide on a couple of occasions. He was in his nineties at that time and still a bit rough cut.

    • Robert Woodland Says:

      My fingers transposed too many letters in Reidel. I apologize. As a side note, he was extremely proud of the fact that his recipe for baked beans was and is still being served in the Congressional cafeteria in Washington, D.C.


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