Started as a humble produce stand in the 1970s by “Jungle” Jim Bonaminio, Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio, has been providing the culinarily curious with an extensive collection of rare items and singing animatronic food mascots for over 40 years.
The nearly 300,000-square-foot market offers over 180,000 different products, from standard American grocery items to unique international food and drink. Entire rows are dedicated to soda (or “pop,” as they say in Cincinnati), hot sauce, and every variety of potato chip imaginable. Even insects have their own special area (bug kebabs, anyone?). There’s a massive beer and wine selection, and shoppers can drink while they explore.
Beyond its ground kangaroo, kombucha beer, and tea flavored like chocolate-covered bacon, Jungle Jim’s is perhaps best-known for its unique décor. Miniature storefronts pay homage to architectural styles across Europe, and colorful characters greet guests as they move from aisle to aisle, including a lion singing Elvis’s greatest hits, a merry band of animatronic General Mills cereal mascots on a boat, and an enormous swinging, singing Campbell’s Soup can.
In 2007, the store’s bathrooms won Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom Contest. At first glance, the restrooms look like individual, single-seat Porta-Potties. But each door actually leads down a hallway to the giant, multi-stall restroom inside.
In 2012, the store opened a second location in Cincinnati. Both stores host events, guided tours, and team-building scavenger hunts by appointment.