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12 Food Brands Named for People (and Whether Those People Were Real)

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These names are probably all over your kitchen—but did they belong to real people?

1. Betty Crocker

Fictional. The name was created for the Washburn Crosby Company (which would later merge with other businesses to form General Mills) by Marjorie Husted as a way to personalize the company’s products and customer relations. Husted picked the first name Betty because it sounded “warm and friendly,” and combined it with Crocker as a tribute to retired Washburn Crosby executive William Crocker. 

2. Sara Lee

Real. Baker Charles Lubin owned a small chain of Chicago bakeries in the early 20th century. Among his products was a cheesecake named after his young daughter, Sara Lee Lubin. He later changed the name of the business to Kitchens of Sara Lee, and when it was later acquired by the Consolidated Foods Corporation, it became one of the company’s leading brands. Based on that strength, Consolidated Foods adopted the name Sara Lee for the whole corporation. Sara Lee didn’t follow her father into the baking business, but instead has worked to encourage and support women working in science.

3. Aunt Jemima

Fictional. Aunt Jemima-esque “mammy” characters have been used as racial caricatures for ages. The businessmen who developed an early ready-made pancake mix reportedly saw one such character in a black-face minstrel show in the late 1800s and appropriated the image to brand their new product. Aunt Jemima was later brought to life when the business’s new owner hired Nancy Green, a former slave, to portray the character in ads and at events. Green made her public debut in character at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where she charmed the crowds and doled out pancakes from a booth. The Jemima brand soon became so popular that Green secured a lifetime contract, and the business was renamed the Aunt Jemima Mills Company.

4. Captain Morgan

Real. Sir Henry Morgan sailed the high seas during the 17th century as a privateer. The Welsh sailor made his name defending British interests and raiding Spanish ships and towns throughout the Caribbean. After a stint in prison for continuing to harass and pillage the Spanish after a peace treaty was signed, he was knighted and appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica. 

5. Chef Boyardee

Real. Ettore Boiardi was an Italian immigrant who worked as a chef in New York and West Virginia hotels (where he supposedly catered Woodrow Wilson’s second wedding) before opening his own restaurant in Cleveland. There, he started selling bottles of his pasta sauce, and soon expanded the operation with a factory in Pennsylvania. He dubbed the canned and bottled products “Chef Boy-Ar-Dee” to help consumers pronounce his name. 

6. Dr Pepper

Probably fictional. Pharmacist Charles Alderton developed the formula for Dr Pepper while working at W.B. Morrison & Co. Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas in 1885. The drink was named by Alderton’s boss, Wade Morrison. Records from the store show that they’d played around with a similar name before, and had a recipe for a digestive aid called “D. Pepper’s Pepsin Bitters.” According to the Dr Pepper Museum, there are dozens of stories that connect the name to real-life Doctor Peppers that Morrison might have known, but no conclusive links have been established. 

7. Famous Amos

Real. Wallace Amos was a entertainment talent agent who worked at the William Morris Agency. To woo potential clients, he’d send them packages of his home-made cookies. In the 1970s, friends suggested that Amos make cookies his full-time business. He opened the first “Famous Amos” store in Los Angeles in 1975 and then began supplying cookies to grocery stores around the country. 

8. Mrs. Fields

Real. Debbi Fields and her then-husband Randall opened their first bakery in 1977. Fields began franchising in 1990 and then sold the business while staying on as the company’s spokesperson. There are now more than 650 Mrs. Fields stores in the U.S.

9. Jimmy Dean

Real. Dean was already a well-known country singer, actor, and TV personality when he and his brother Don founded the Jimmy Dean Sausage Company in 1969. They later sold the company, and Dean stayed involved in management and as a spokesperson until management phased him out. 

10. Marie Callender

Real. Don Callender opened a wholesale bakery to supply pies to restaurants in the late 1940s. He named the business after his mother, claiming that no one would want to buy from a place called “Don’s Pies.”

11. Oscar Mayer

Real. German immigrant brothers Oscar, Gottfried, and Max Mayer ran a butcher shop in Chicago in the early 20th century, which was one of the first companies to get on board with the USDA’s new meat inspection grades. To capitalize on their hometown popularity, they started branding their products with Oscar’s name when they expanded their business. 

12. Uncle Ben

Maybe real. Converted Rice Inc. supplied rice to the American military during World War II, and the owners wanted a new brand name and image when they started focusing on civilian consumers towards the end of the war. According to the company, Uncle Ben was a real rice grower known for high-quality product in founder Gordon Harwell’s native Texas, and the brand was named for him as an homage. Not much else is known about the real Ben, and it’s not even his picture on the box. That image is instead said to be based on the maître d' of the restaurant where Harwell and his business partners sometimes met. 

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Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists
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We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

Rows of holiday gnomes.
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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

Group of hands holding smartphones.
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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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