Seven Stores and Products Named After Real People


Little Debbie

O.D. McKee, founder of McKee Foods, was inspired by a photograph of his then four-year-old granddaughter, Debbie, in her straw hat, and decided to name the company’s cakes after her.  The crazy part, Little Debbie is actually still alive and the Executive Vice President of McKee Foods, the company her grandfather created.

Uncle Ben

Uncle Ben was a real person—a Houston rice farmer in the 1940s who was known for consistently producing the highest quality rice. The gentleman on the box, however, isn’t Ben: the spokesperson was Frank Brown, the maître d’ of a Chicago restaurant.

Sun-Maid Girl

Lorraine Collett Petersen is the real-life Sun-Maid girl, having sat for a portrait shortly after 1915 for the company. As the story goes, Petersen and her friends went to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco to help distribute samples. All the other girls were wearing blue bonnets, but Petersen rocked a bright red one. The wife of a company exec noticed her bonnet, and the rest is history

Leeann Chinn

The concept was founded by Leeann Chin, a Chinese immigrant who moved to Minnesota in 1957. She opened her first location in Minnetonka, Minnesota in 1980 and another in St. Paul in 1984. General Mills bought the name to her restaurants and the restaurants in 1984 with plans to expand the chain nationally

Oscar Mayer

German immigrant Oscar Mayer was just 14 years old when he began learning the meat market trade as an apprentice in Chicago. By 1900, Oscar and his brothers were some of the Windy City’s busiest sausage makers. In 1924, they were the first to bring pre-sliced packaged bacon to the market. Five years later, Oscar released his now-famous yellow paper band-wrapped hot dogs to the public.

Dick's Sporting Goods

In 1948, at the age of 18, Dick Stack worked at an Army/Navy store in his hometown of Binghamton, New York, after World War II. At the owner’s request, "Dick" explored the idea of expanding the product line to include fishing and camping supplies, but the owner rejected Dick's suggestions, stating that Dick “would never make a good merchant.”

When Dick recounted his story later that day, his grandmother advised, “Dick, always follow your dreams,” and gave him $300 from her savings. He rented a storefront and opened the first Dick's as a small "bait & tackle" fishing supply store, on Court Street near Howard Avenue

Lane Bryant

Widowed at an early age, Lena Bryant supported herself and her young son as a dressmaker. Borrowing $300 for working capital from her brother-in-law, Bryant went to the bank to open an account. The bank officer misspelled her name on the application as Lane instead of Lena. In 1904, she rented a small storefront on Fifth Avenue with living quarters in the back for $12.50 a month. There she hung her garments from the gas fixtures, and opened the doors.

Asked by one of her pregnant customers to design something "presentable but comfortable" to wear in public, Bryant created a dress with an elasticized waistband and accordion-pleated skirt. This would be the first known commercially made maternity dress. This dress was welcomed not only by middle-class women, but by poorer pregnant women who had to work. The maternity dress soon became the best-selling garment in Bryant's shop. (Wikipedia) 


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