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Which of these famous kitchen mascots were real and which were pure fiction?

Updated on December 3, 2012

In the western world many food brands are known as much for the icons on the labels as for the product found inside the bottle, box, can or package. And if you are a western consumer you will probably recognize many of the following iconic mascots. Some of you may have been acquainted with these characters all your life, and like me, have grown very fond of them. But do you know which of these mascots were inspired by real human beings and which ones were pure advertising creations? Look at these familiar faces and/or labels and make your guess. You may be surprised just who turns out to be real and who doesn't.

The answers can be found at the bottom of the page. Good luck!

1. Little Miss Sunbeam

Little Miss Sunbeam is still used on the bread label today!

#2. Sara Lee

Sara Lee..her cakes and pies make champions of quick dessert servers.

#3 Mama of Mama RoSa's Pizza

Mama Rosa's frozen pizzas may taste like carboard, but they're inexpensive enough to feed all your husband's friends during the Super Bowl!

#4 Mrs. Paul

Mrs. Paul's fish flillets and a pan of cornbread makes a delicious meal!

#5 Uncle Ben of Uncle Ben's Converted Rice

Uncle Ben - instilling cooking confidence in even the worst chefs, like myself.

#6 Little Debbie

Little Debbie knows what kids like to snack on..and Moms and Dads, too.

#7 Aunt Jemima

If I'm going to make pancakes from an already-made mix Aunt Jemima is my favorite brand to work with. And now she offers whole grain varieties, too.

#8 Mama Michelina

You gotta love Mama's stuff. Easy, inexpensive and delicious.

#9 The Sun-Maid Raisins girl

People say kids recognize Ronald McDonald early, but I knew this lady's face long before I developed a taste for the hamburger king's products.

#10 Mrs. Smith

Mrs. Smith better stay away from my husband. Her pumpkin pie is the strumpet queen of the pre-made pies!

#11 Betty Crocker

Betty Crocker knows her way around the kitchen. And she can get plumb kinky with frosting, too.

#12 Blue Nun

Hers might be the worst drivel on the wine market but it is perfect for those trying to hastily forget what they said in the confessional booth.

#13 the Gorton's Fisherman

He's a manly man doing manly things with manly fish on the Gorton Queen.. or something to that effect.

#14 Mrs. Butterworth

When I was just a wee little girl Mrs. Butterworth was in the first nightmare I ever recall having. She was chasing me down a sidewalk and I was in my little red wagon trying desperately to get away. Not sure what that dream meant, but even today I get a shiver seeing this bottle. But Mrs. Butterworth does make a mean syrup.

#15 The Morton Salt girl

Poor Morton salt girl. She's been having to fight that rain for decades.

#16 The Cream of Wheat chef

My Grandmother always kept a box of Cream of Wheat in the pantry. She was the only one who liked eating it, but it sure did smell good cooking on the stove.

#17 Crack Jack's Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo

One of my favorite childhood treats. And it was pretty healthy, too.

#18 Chiquita of Chiquita Bananas

Chiquita even had a song way back in the day. I don't recall the lyrics but the melody was cute.

19. Chef Boyardee

My husband hates Chef Boyardee. He says the look of the sauces are almost as disgusting as the smell of the product. I don't know; I still love the ravioli.

20. Martha White, I mean Northerners.. may not know Martha White. But she's famous in the South for her flour, cornmeal and even packaged muffin and biscuit mixes. And her products come with excellent recipes on the back labels!

Have you made your guesses which mascots were inspired by real folks? Here are the answers:

1. Little Miss Sunbeam – yes. She was none other than Patty Michaels, who went on to establish a singing and acting career for herself in the 1960’s. She also appeared in film and television in the 1970’s

2. Sara Lee –yes. Sara was only 8 years old when her father, Charlie Lubin, a bakery entrepreneur, decided to name his new line of cheesecakes after her.

3. Mama of MaMa Rosa’s frozen pizzas – not real

4. Mrs. Paul – yes. When deviled crab chef Edward Piszek needed money to open a frozen seafood business his good friend, John Paul, contributed $350. Mrs. Paul was John’s mother.

5. Uncle Ben of Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice –yes. Uncle Ben was a rice farmer, known throughout Texas as the most productive rice farmer in the state.

6. Little Debbie – yes, she was named after the real life granddaughter of company founders O.D. and Ruth McKee, who started their treats business way back in the Depression (before the company even had a name). Their small family business kept the family from starving.

7. Aunt Jemima – not real

8. Michelina –yes, she was the real-life Mama of Jeno F. Paulucci, founder of Michelina’s Foods

9. Sun Maid raisin girl – yes. A young woman by the name of Lorraine Collett Petersen was asked to pose by for an original raisin label –holding a basket of raisins. The company founders named their product Sun-Maid for her.

10. Mrs. Smith –yes. She was American homemaker, Amanda Smith

11. Betty Crocker –not real, just fictional.

12. the Blue Nun wine – no. The name and mascot were chosen by the H. Sichel Söhne company as an alternative to hard-to-pronounce brand names and medieval gothic script labels. They hoped this would help make wine more appealing to young twentieth-century wine drinkers. Unfortunately, neither helped recruit fans. But the label is unforgettable.

13. Gorton’s Fisherman –yes. He was Slade Gorton of Glouchester, Massachusetts, and his fishing company was originally called Slade Gorton & Company

14. Mrs. Butterworth –no, she’s fictitious

15. The Morton Salt “When it rains it pours” girl – No, this cute girl was pure imagination.

16. the Cream of Wheat Chef - no, even as the company founders fondly called him Chef Rastus.

17. Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo of the Cracker Jack popcorn confection – yes. The boy's real name was Robert Rueckheim and he was the grandson of the confection’s co-inventor, Frederick William Rueckheim. Tragically, Robert died at the tender age of eight years, shortly after his image was first used on the confection’s packaging. But grandpa Frederick didn’t forget the child, and when he passed away years later, the the image of “Sailor Jack” was carved into his headstone. The dog “Bingo” was also real; he was named Russell and was a stray adopted by Cracker Jack packager, Henry Eckstein.

18. Chiquita of Chiquita Bananas – no. The lovely but fictional Chiquita girl was first brought to illustration life by Dik Browne, known best for his Hagar the Horrible comic strip.

19. Chef Boyardee –yes, one Henry Boiardi, who, at the age of twenty, immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1914.

20. Martha White – yes. She was the daughter of Nashville’s Royal Flour Mill founder, Richard Lindsey, Sr


Submit a Comment

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

    delia-delia, thanks for dropping by. Please give me the full link - I would be happy to update the Hub info for the latest Sun Maid :)

  • delia-delia profile image

    Delia 3 years ago

    Interesting's amazing how many people don't realize that some of the images shown on packaging are real people.

    As far as the Sun Maid girl...yes, Ms. Petersen was the first in 1915 to be on the box, but the version since 1970 till now is me...I wrote about it here.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

    Thanks platinumOwl14, I appreciate that :)

  • platinumOwl4 profile image

    platinumOwl4 3 years ago

    Great hub, intend to read more of your work.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 6 years ago from Tennesee

    Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Barbara743 profile image

    Barbara743 6 years ago

    Another great hub. Enjoyed it.... In high school, my freshman English teacher told me that her sister was Betty Crocker. Actually, she was one of several young women who together were the "Betty Crocker" icon. This was ages ago, and I'm not quite sure how it worked, but she insisted that it was true....

  • kittythedreamer profile image

    Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

    Too cool and such a fun hub. You're too creative, Miss Beth. Voted up and awesome. I truly enjoyed reading this hub...and I would've never came up with an idea like this one!

  • ibbarkingmad profile image

    Brian 6 years ago from Utah

    Very fun and informative!

  • WillStarr profile image

    WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    Fun Hub!

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 6 years ago from America

    My favorite Aunt Jemima I knew she wasn't real but when a kid we always had her in the house. Good hub.