We see their faces in our pantries and fridges every single day, but how often do you really think about the namesakes and faces behind your favorite products?
Sure, we could all sing the Oscar Mayer wiener song, we’ve eaten more Betty Crocker cakes than we’d like to admit, and yes, I honestly do prefer Aunt Jemima syrup over the fresh stuff, but if you asked me if I knew which one of those people were real and which were fake I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
The fact of the matter is that the face of the company isn’t always who created the product, and it’s interesting to see the truth behind this false image we’ve been given all these years.
While Debbie is technically a real person, she had no idea that she was was going to be the mascot of a mega corporation. The little girl is actually the granddaughter of O.D. McKee, and he was struggling to name his new snack company when he saw a photo of Debbie and decided that she would be the perfect choice.
He didn’t even inform her family that their daughter was about to have her face plastered all over every snack cake in the country. They only found out when they saw the boxes in stores.
There is a real-live Chef Boyardee, except that isn’t how you spell it. His name was Ettore Boiardi, and he was from New York. He was an amazing chef who was credited with providing a lot of food to the troops during World War II.
The spelling of his name was changed to the phonetic spelling but the picture is actually him.
Uncle Ben is a bit of a mystery. The rice was made by a chemist named Erich Huzenlaub, so who was this “Ben” character?
Well, there are a few theories out there, one being that the character of Uncle Ben was based on a maitre de in Chicago named Frank Brown, while others say that he was a drawing of a rice farmer from Houston.
The company used to have people distribute samples of their product, and while the other girls were wearing blue bonnets, Lorraine Collett Petersen wore a red bonnet. She stood out to the company and so they had her sit for a portrait.