The 17 Real People Behind Your Favorite Food Brand Names

From Duncan Hines to H.J. Heinz, there’s a real person behind some of the biggest food brand names

Wikimedia Commons/ We Hope
Jimmy Dean didn't just make some mighty fine breakfast sausage, he was also a legendary country singer.

From Orville Redenbacher to Marie Callender, from Wendy’s to Mrs. Fields, there are plenty of food brands out there that took their names from a real-life person. Some were named after their founder (or their founder’s relatives), others were named after celebrities who let their name be licensed, but every brand named after a person reflects a unique success story, one of the American dream fulfilled.

The 17 Real People Behind Your Favorite Food Brand Names

While navigating the supermarket aisle, we’re confronted with brand name after brand name. Some we recognize but don’t purchase, others we’re fiercely loyal to and buy without giving a second thought, others we’ve never even heard of. While some brands, like Nabisco, obviously got their names based on a brainstorm session (National Biscuit Company was probably pretty easy to think of, and to shorten), others, like Hormel and Keebler, are a bit more mysterious. Who was this Mr. Hormel, and what did he do to make his name nearly synonymous with processed meat?

It turns out that the vast majority of brands named after real people are — of course — named after the company’s founder. But each of these founders has a unique and oftentimes fascinating story. Take Orville Redenbacher, for example. Beginning at age 12, he spent decades perfecting a hybrid popping corn that popped up light and fluffy. Once he nailed it, it gave rise to a huge company. Other large companies are named after people with only a tangential connection to the brand, like Wendy’s, which was named after a nickname for founder Dave Thomas’ daughter, Melinda Lou. And if you thought that Duncan Hines’ claim to fame was the invention of instant cake mix, then we suggest you check out the 1935 book that made him a household name, Adventures in Good Eating, which had nothing to do with cake mix and everything to do with great restaurants.

If you’ve ever wondered who the famous Nathan was, why "it’s gotta be good" with a name like Smucker’s, and who this Heinz was, with his 57 varieties, then click here to learn all about 17 real people behind your favorite food brand names


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