Jenny Craig founded her weight loss company with the help of her husband Sidney, in Melbourne, Australia, in 1983. The New Orleans native moved the company's headquarters to the Carlsbad, Calif., two years later. There are currently more than 725 Jenny Craig locations around the world, and the company has expanded to offer a wide variety of prepared meals, cookbooks, and supporting merchandise. Nestlé bought Jenny Craig, Inc. in 2006.
This industry mogul cut her teeth in the business world as stockbroker, but quickly switched careers after moving to Westport, Conn., and starting a catering company. Stewart's first break came in 1982, when she published her first wildly successful cookbook, Entertaining. After publishing a series of follow-up books, Stewart started Martha Stewart Living magazine with Time Publishing Ventures in 1990. In 1997, Stewart bought the various pieces of her brand and started Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Despite serving jail time in 2004, she bounced back with full force with regards to her burgeoning brand.
While she may not have created the next Pepperidge Farm, Emily Olson co-founded Foodzie, an online marketplace for artisanal, small-scale food manufacturers and growers to sell their products to hungry customers. Olson, 25, started the company along with co-founders Rob LaFave and Nik Bauman.
Lynda Resnick was already an established businesswoman and chairman of one company, Teleflora (which she owns with her husband), when she decided to start another one. Apparently, a plot of pomegranate trees on Resnick's property inspired her to fund the medical research of pomegranates that led to the founding of POM Wonderful in 2002.
Professionally trained pastry chef Candace Nelson switched careers from investment banker to full-time cupcake baker in 2002. The company began as a catering venture that operated out of her home kitchen. Nelson and her husband opened the first storefront location of Sprinkles Cupcakes in 2005. Since then, they've opened nine other locations across the country and they have plans to expand internationally.
Before coming up with the idea for Foodspotting, Alexa Andrzejewski was in the business of helping other web entrepreneurs design products for their start-up ventures. An avid food lover, Andrzejewski hooked up with her future co-founder, Soraya Darabi, previously of Epicurious and The New York Times, to launch Foodspotting in 2010.
In 1965, Ruth Fertel, a single mother of two, spotted a listing in the classified section of The Times-Picayune listing a restaurant for sale in New Orleans. She decided to mortgage her home and buy Chris Steakhouse. When the restaurant fell victim to a devastating fire in 1976, Fertel opened a new location with a new name, Ruth's Chris Steak House. She began franchising the brand and it took off, becoming one of the largest fine dining ventures in the world.
Dorothy Cann Hamilton founded The International Culinary Center in New York City in 1984. The consortium of culinary institutes includes The French Culinary Institute and the ICA's School of Italian Studies, and has additional campuses in San Francisco and Parma, Italy. Hamilton has dedicated her life to culinary education and is an author and James Beard Award winner.
Snack-food industry mogul, Debbi Fields opened the first location of Mrs. Field's in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1977 with the help of her husband. The cookies became so popular that they opened a series of other locations. Fields began franchising the business in 1990 and now there are more than 470 Mrs. Field's locations around the world.
Carol Bernick developed the idea for Mrs. Dash seasonings as a marketing executive for the Alberto-Culver Company. She ultimately pitched her brand of salt-free seasonings to the corporation and they bought it. The spice blend is currently sold in 14 varieties. Bernick is now the executive chairman of Alberto-Culver.
In 2002, at 23, Kelly Flatley decided to pursue her passion for making homemade granola and dedicated herself to formulating the perfect recipe in her parents' kitchen. She started packaging the cereal herself and selling it at local Connecticut farmers markets. Flatley's childhood friend Brendan Synnott decided to quit his day job and join her as a business partner. Using their personal finances, the duo got Bear Naked off the ground.
Stacy Madison launched her famous pita chip brand out of a sandwich cart in Boston with the help of her business partner. The cart began selling pita sandwiches and eventually Stacy started baking the pitas into chips for customers to snack on. The chips were such a success that she started packaging them and the brand took off. PepsiCo bought the company in 2005.
Alice Larse launched Alice's Stick Cookies in 2001 at the age of 69. Ten years later the cookies are sold in 48 states and carried by national supermarket chains like Whole Foods. Larse sold the company three months ago.
Aihui Ong founded Love With Food, a social and philanthropic network for the food-loving community. Members can feel good purchasing a variety of food products, knowing that for every purchase made the company donates a meal to someone in need.
Allysa Torey and Jennifer Appel opened the first location of Magnolia Bakery in 1996 in Manhattan's West Village. After publishing a cookbook together in 1999 the partners decided to split up and sold the company to Steve and Tyra Abrams, the current owners.
Margaret Rudkin was inspired to start Pepperidge Farm by her son, who suffered from asthma and other allergies that hindered him from eating processed foods like white bread. Rudkin opened a bakery to sell both white and wheat breads to her community members in Fairfield, Conn., in 1947. In 1961 Rudkin sold her company to Campbell's Soup and took over as the corporation's director.
Queens homemaker Jean Nidetch had the idea that she and her friends might have an easier time losing weight if they got together and formed a community of support — as a result she founded Weight Watchers in 1963. The company is present in 30 countries and has spawned a host of extremely popular food products, cookbooks, and courses.