Here’s What Famous Food Figures Look Like in Real Life
Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, and Jimmy Dean are all household names from food brands you grew up with, but who were they in real life?
Duncan Hines worked as a traveling salesman, eating his way across America long before his boxed cake mixes and icings made his way into our homes. While on the road, he self-published “Adventures in Good Eating,” a list of recommended restaurants he encountered on his journeys. He made his foray into packaged baking mixes in the 1950s, with most of the success happening after his death, in 1959. (By the way, here’s the real reason there’s less cake mix in your box now than before.)
Born and bred in Indiana, Harland Sanders was running a popular service station in Kentucky when he was given the title of colonel by the governor of Kentucky. He moved his operation to a restaurant across the street, where he featured his famous fried chicken. (Try our copycat recipe!) After closing his initial restaurant, he focused his efforts on franchising his chicken business, traveling across the country and collecting a nickel for every chicken sold. After Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) went public in 1966, the business continued to expand.
Wendy of Wendy’s
While Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas is the face and namesake of fast-food chain Wendy’s, she isn’t the founder of the company. The man who started Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers was Dave Thomas. He began his journey in the fast-food world working with Colonel Sanders at Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 1969, he started his own restaurant and named it after his youngest daughter, Melinda. As a child, Melinda was unable to pronounce her L’s properly, and so she was known as Wendy. (We bet you didn’t know these other food products are based on real people, too!)
Before Chef Boyardee appeared in the canned-goods aisle, there was Italian immigrant Hector Boiardi. After moving to America in the 1910s, Boiardi made his name in the food scene by landing a job at the famed Plaza Hotel in New York City. Shortly after, he opened his own restaurant and a food line, too. His brothers Mario and Paul recommended that he use a phonetic spelling of their last name to make it easier to pronounce. Hector Boiardi’s likeness inspired the face on the cans we know today.
The legacy of Marie Callender’s famous restaurant and food line began in Orange County, California, in the 1940s. Marie Callender owned a bakery that delivered fresh and delicious pies to nearby restaurants. As her business grew, she opened a wholesale bakery and her own pie and coffee shop. Now, 65 full-service restaurants are in operation across the U.S. and Mexico, in addition to retail frozen meals and pies that are based on original recipes by Marie herself.