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33 Grocery Store Staples Named After Real People

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Betty Crocker, Dr Pepper, and Aunt Jemima may be figments of a marketing team’s imagination, but a lot of the names on foods were actual people. From Duncan Hines to Chef Boyardee, here are 33 grocery store items named after real people.

1. DUNCAN HINES CAKE MIXES

Before Tim and Nina Zagat, there was Duncan Hines, a traveling salesman who made a habit of writing about the food that he ate on his travels, which he eventually turned into a best-selling book, Adventures in Good Eating. The book—and man—became so popular that restaurants and hotels given positive reviews by Hines began hanging signs in their establishments denoting that they were “Recommended by Duncan Hines.” By 1940, Hines’ name was so synonymous with good eats that he was approached about licensing it for a line of high-quality food products, which at that time consisted of more than 250 canned, bottled, and boxed products. Today, the Duncan Hines line is not so diverse, but it’s still pretty massive, with more than 80 boxed mixes for cakes, muffins, brownies, and beyond.

2. BIRDS EYE FROZEN VEGGIES

Would-be biologist Clarence Birdseye revolutionized the food industry when he invented a new method for flash-freezing food—the same process that’s used to freeze the Birds Eye line of fruits and veggies. More interested in being an inventor and entrepreneur than a food-maker, in 1929 Birdseye sold his company and patents for the tidy sum of $22 million.

3. CAMPBELL’S SOUP

Joseph A. Campbell is the man behind the canned soup company that spawned a home cooking revolution and a pop art phenomenon. Originally part of a beefsteak tomato canning and preserving company, in 1891 Campbell bought out his original partner and began working with chemist-turned-chairman John T. Dorrance on a condensed soup recipe. In 1894, Campbell retired, but the company retained his name; in 1897, the company released its first product line—including tomato, chicken, vegetable and oxtail soups, and consommé—and a year later unveiled its now-iconic red and white packaging.

4. LAY’S POTATO CHIPS

In 1931, Herman Lay was a traveling potato chip salesman working out of his car in the southern part of the United States. By the end of the decade, he was running the show, at least from a distribution standpoint. In 1939—after buying two plants from the Barrett Company—Lay moved to Atlanta to set up shop on his own as the H.W. Lay Company. In the decades that followed, Lay’s became the country’s most successful snack food company, and eventually merged with Frito (in 1961) then Pepsi (in 1965).

5. CHEF BOYARDEE BEEFARONI

The only thing fictional about Chef Boyardee is the spelling of his last name; Ettore “Hector” Boiardi is the real name of this master of canned pasta, who began working professionally at the age of 11 and was leading the kitchen of the Plaza Hotel by the time he was 17. (The spelling change was, understandably, for pronunciation purposes.)

6. DOLE PINEAPPLES

From fresh fruits to frozen ones and fresh-cut vegetables to packaged foods, Dole Food Company products can be found from one end of the grocery store to the other. And it all began back in 1899, when James Dole came to Hawaii with $1000 to his name, a Harvard degree on his resume, and a desire to grow the world’s best pineapples, in order to give the rest of the country a taste.

7. ENTENMANN'S PASTRIES

Today, you can usually find Entenmann’s donuts, cookies, cakes, and pies at the end of the bread aisle. But back in 1898, you would have had to travel to Brooklyn to get your Entenmann’s fix, for it’s here that German immigrant William Entenmann started up his own bakery business, with products which he delivered door-to-door by horse-drawn carriage.

8. CELESTE PIZZA

CelestePizza.com

Italian immigrant Celeste Lizio is a culinary legend in the Chicago area, where she opened her first pizzeria in the 1930s. By the next decade, demand for her pies had outgrown the supply, so Lizio opted to close the restaurant and focus solely on supplying her product and ingredients to a host of nearby pizzerias. Shortly thereafter, the Quaker Oats Company came calling to begin freezing “Mama” Celeste’s pizzas (yep, that’s her picture on the box) and supply them to a nation full of hungry pie lovers.

9. HEINZ KETCHUP

Anyone who follows politics—or the life of John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, in particular—knows that there is indeed a real family behind the Heinz brand. And it started with Pittsburgh native Henry J. Heinz at the helm, who began his food career in the 1860s delivering horseradish, pickles, sauerkraut, and vinegar by horse-drawn carriage. In 1876, ketchup and relish were added to the Heinz culinary repertoire. In 1896, Heinz added the “57 Varieties” to the company packaging, indicating the 57 products the company produced. In truth, there were more than 60, but Heinz thought 57 sounded more interesting. Today, the brand manufactures more than 5700 products.

10. KELLOGG’S CORN FLAKES

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

One of the world’s most iconic breakfast cereals is the result of a mistake made by W.K. Kellogg and his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, when their failed attempt at making granola resulted in a bowl of flaked wheat berry. Which tasted pretty darn good. So they tried to fail again, this time with corn, and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were born. They were introduced in 1906 by the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which was renamed the Kellogg Company in 1922.

11. BEN & JERRY’S ICE CREAM

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By now it’s no secret that the titular ice cream makers responsible for such legendary flavors as Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough are Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, two childhood friends who opened their first ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont in 1978 and have since transformed the brand into a frozen global behemoth.

12. FAMOUS AMOS COOKIES

Not only is Wally Amos, the man behind Famous Amos Cookies, a real person, he’s alive and well—having recently celebrated his 78th birthday—and splits his time between Hawaii and New York (he even appeared as himself in a 2012 episode of The Office). And though he was still a teen when he began tinkering with the chocolate chip cookie recipe that made him famous (it was a twist on his aunt’s cookie concoction), it wasn’t until later in life that he pursued baking as a vocation. After a stint with the Air Force, Amos went to college and took a clerical job at the William Morris Agency, which eventually led to him becoming the company’s first African American talent agent, where he headed up the rock ‘n’ roll department. (Discovering Simon & Garfunkel didn’t hurt his career.) In 1940, with the support of some of his celebrity friends—and a $25,000 loan from Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy—Amos quit the show business game and opened his first cookie store in Los Angeles.

13. GRANNY SMITH APPLES

Apple pie’s favorite filler was discovered in Australia in 1868, when Maria Ann “Granny” Smith found the seedling in her garden in the same spot where she had thrown out some French crab apples from Tasmania, which is what she originally believed them to be. It wasn’t until almost a century later, during the 1960s, that American apple growers began harvesting the variety, which today is one of the most popular types of apple.

14. DANNON YOGURT

Dannon (a.k.a. Danon or Danone) is the nickname of Daniel Carasso, the son of yogurt producer Isaac Carasso, who founded the Dannon company (as Danone) in Spain in 1919. A decade later, the company relocated to France and then, following the German occupation of France during World War II, to New York, where the company name lost an “e” and gained an “n” for easier pronunciation among Americans. As for Daniel: He eventually became an important force in the brand’s global marketing, and the man many hold responsible for popularizing yogurt around the world.

15. JIMMY DEAN SAUSAGES

Long before he became a sausage king in 1969, Jimmy Dean’s name was a familiar one, thanks to a thriving country music career (his biggest hit came in 1961, with “Big Bad John”) and a television gig on The Jimmy Dean Show (which kicked off Jim Henson’s career). But Dean believed he needed a fallback career, so he and his brother Dean began a butchering company in Plainview, Texas. Within six months, the Jimmy Dean Meat Company had turned a profit. In 1984, Dean sold the multimillion dollar company to Sara Lee Foods, and stayed on as its spokesperson through 2003.

16. LITTLE DEBBIE

You know Little Debbie’s face from the last time you tore into a box of Swiss Cake Rolls. But did you know that Little Debbie—the same gingham-dress and wide-brim-hat-wearing youngster on the box—is the granddaughter of McKee Foods founder O.D. McKee? While trying to come up with a name for a new line of family-size cartons of snack cakes, someone suggested that McKee name them after a family member. He chose his granddaughter Debbie, who was four years old at the time.

17. HORMEL CHILI

Hormel.com

In 1891, George A. Hormel opened a pork processing plant in Austin, Minnesota, which—thanks to tremendous sales—spawned a retail shop in Minneapolis just two years later. In the 1920s, Hormel developed the world’s first canned ham, which led to a variety of other canned products, including chili and, in 1937, SPAM!

18. KEEBLER COOKIES

Believe that a team of elves are the real source behind Keebler’s line of cookies all you want. The truth is that it’s a man named Godfrey Keebler, who started it all when he opened up a tiny bakery in Philadelphia in 1853. In 1926, Keebler became a founding member of the United Biscuit Company of America, which consisted of a collection of bakeries that distributed their goods to out-of-area customers via automobile. By 1966, this collection of bakeries had grown so large that consolidation became the best option and the company name was changed to the Keebler Company in honor of its founding father. Oh, and about Ernie and the rest of the elves? They didn’t appear until 1970, when the Leo Burnett Company devised them as part of an advertising campaign.

19. MARIE CALLENDER’S PIES

In the early 1940s, Marie Callender began delivering her pies to area restaurants. By the end of the decade—with the help of her son and her husband—she was running a wholesale bakery and making more than 200 pies each day. In 1964, she opened her first pie and coffee shop. As Callender’s name grew in popularity, the opportunity to license it became a profitable part of the family business venture. In 1994, ConAgra Foods purchased a variety of product licenses and began putting out the frozen food line, which includes both sweet and savory pies and more.

20. ORVILLE REDENBACHER POPCORN

Hunt-Wesson/Wikipedia Commons

The Orville Redenbacher brand claims that the company founder “dedicated his life to perfecting a lighter, fluffier popcorn.” The Indiana farm boy was just 12 when he began growing and selling popping corn, the profits of which he used to fund his college education (a B.S. in Agriculture from Purdue University). After years of playing around with popcorn hybrids, Redenbacher and his business partner Charlie Bowman came up with their famous formula in 1965, which is light and fluffy and offers a 44:1 ratio of popped to un-popped corn.

21. SMUCKER'S JAM

Today, the J.M. Smucker Company is home to more than 30 product lines, including Jif peanut butter, Folgers coffee, and Pillsbury baked goods. But back in 1897, when it was founded by farmer Jerome M. Smucker, pressed cider was its main product. Apple butter (sold from the back of a horse-drawn wagon) came next and eventually blossomed into a full line of well-known jams, jellies, syrups, ice cream toppings, and more.

22. KRAFT CHEESE

Success was not immediate for Kraft Foods founder James L. Kraft. In 1903, the Canada-born businessman started a door-to-door cheese company in Chicago with just $65 to his name. Though the company lost $3,000 in its initial year, business started booming when James’ brothers joined him in the endeavor in 1909. Five years later, the company had more than 30 varieties of cheese among its offerings. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest food manufacturers, with nearly $19 billion in revenue last year alone.

23. MORTON SALT

Originally established as Richmond & Company, Agents for Onondaga Salt in 1848, the salt company that made an icon of a little girl in a yellow raincoat first took on the Morton name in 1889, when businessman Joy Morton acquired a major portion of the company and renamed it Joy Morton & Company. Twenty-one years—and several acquisitions—later, the company was renamed the Morton Salt Company.

24. MOTT’S APPLESAUCE

Pork chops have got Samuel R. Mott, a Quaker who decided to start his own cider and vinegar business in 1842, to thank for the applesauce that makes the dish. It wasn’t until the Great Depression, when it was known as Duffy-Mott, that the company began to truly diversify. In 1930, they introduced a wide range of new products, including the applesauce that would become a flagship item.

25. OSCAR MAYER HOT DOGS

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.

26. UNCLE BEN’S RICE

Though not much is known about the real Uncle Ben, the company asserts that he is indeed a real person. He is, in fact, a combination of two people: the actual Uncle Ben, a farmer from Texas who set the standard of how rice should be grown, and Frank Brown, a chef and waiter from Chicago whose likeness is used on every Uncle Ben product.

27. NATHAN’S FAMOUS HOT DOGS

The Nathan behind these rightfully famous frankfurters is Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant and restaurant worker who—at the urging of his co-workers Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante (both of whom worked as singing waiters)—opened a hot dog stand on the Coney Island Boardwalk in 1916. Cantor and Durante quickly became some of Nathan’s best customers (Al Capone and Cary Grant frequented the stand, too), but Nathan truly earned the “Famous” in his name in 1939, when FDR served Nathan’s hot dogs to the King and Queen of England.

28. BREYER’S ICE CREAM

Ice cream was in its infancy in 1866, which is when William A. Breyer began to make and sell it via horse and wagon in the Philadelphia area. In 1908, William’s son Henry incorporated the business, which became part of the Kraft family of foods in 1926, and then Unilever in 1993.

29. BUSH’S BAKED BEANS

If you believe what the commercials tell you, the only people to know the secret recipe for Bush’s variety of baked beans are select family members and a talking dog named Duke. What we do know is that the company was founded in 1904 by A.J. Bush, mainly as a tomato canning business. During the Great Depression, the company added canned pork and beans to its product line. It wasn’t until 1969 that the family’s secret recipe for baked beans came into the picture, when Condon Bush (A.J.’s grandson) decided to re-create his mom Kathleen’s recipes for mass consumption.

30. MRS. SMITH’S PIES

MrsSmiths.com

Pottstown, Pennsylvania housewife Amanda Smith’s transformation from homemaker to business owner began at the urging of her son Robert, who was so enamored of his mom’s cooking that he began selling slices of her fruit pies door to door. By 1925, the family business was doing so well that they needed to incorporate and Mrs. Smith's Delicious Home Made Pies, Inc. was born. Today, there are more than 20 varieties of Mrs. Smith’s products available in the frozen food aisle, from crusts to cobblers and two separate pie lines (Original Flaky Crust or Classic).

31. VAN DE KAMP’S FISH STICKS

Before their family name became synonymous with frozen seafood, the Van de Kamp clan—headed up by Theodore, with support from his sisters Marian and Henrietta—dabbled in snacks (the brand began as part of a potato chip stand in Los Angeles). They eventually expanded their offerings to include baked goods and, in the 1950s, ran a local restaurant chain that became known for its delicious plates of batter-fried halibut.

32. SARA LEE DESSERTS

Sara Lee Lubin may get most of the culinary credit, but she was merely the namesake of the dessert line that was named in her honor. In fact, she was only eight years old when her father, Charles, started the Sara Lee bakery chain in Chicago. In 1956, the company was purchased by Consolidated Foods, and Sara Lee became a baked goods icon.

33. ANNIE’S HOMEGROWN MACARONI & CHEESE

Though the Annie’s Homegrown line of foods now goes well beyond mac and cheese, that signature boxed food item was where this company started in 1989 when Annie Withey and Andrew Martin decided to show that healthy food could taste delicious, and that success and social responsibility could go hand in hand in the business world. In the early days, the phone number and address on Annie’s products connected the customer directly to Withey herself.

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13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
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Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


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There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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