Food | Vintage | History | Did You Know

The Truth Behind The Mascots You Thought You Knew, And Which Ones Aren't What They Seem

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.

Little Debbie - REAL

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.

Chef Boyardee - REAL

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 - FAKE

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.

Sun-Maid Raisins - REAL

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.

Aunt Jemima - FAKE

While we may all love this pancake queen, turns out we've been duped. She's not a real person. Aunt Jemima's history is actually a lot more controversial than the others.

Aunt Jemima was actually a character in a minstrel show in 1889, where a performer wearing blackface played her. The company saw the character and thought she would be perfect, but they hired former slave Nancy Green to pose as her instead.

After her death, no one played Aunt Jemima for ten years, but then Anna Robinson took over. A few other woman have played her in print and media over the years, but in 1968 they removed her kerchief, and updated her look to match "modern homemakers."

Betty Crocker - FAKE

The Betty Crocker may have been around for a long time, but the character of Betty is an absolute lie just like Aunt Jemima. She's a fictional baker developed by Marjorie Husted, and it confused people even more when this fictional person started releasing cookbooks. They cast Adelaide Hawley Cumming to portray her on television, but they've altered her face and style many times to better fit what the public wanted a homemaker to look like.

Oscar Mayer - REAL

Finally, one of these people is legit! Oscar Mayer was a German immigrant who opened his own meat shop with his brother in 1883. They were big sponsors of the Chicago World's Fair and they were one of the companies to start to brand and mass market meat. We don't really know why they named it after Oscar, but maybe it's because Gottfried Mayer is just not a good name for bologna.

Did you realize that so many of your favorite brands were feeding you some false information?

Source - TopTenz / Thrillist

Tanya has been writing for Shared for two years. She spends too much time thinking about dogs, Marvel movies, and ice cream. You can reach me at tanya@shared.com