FAKE: America's best-known baker is purely fictional. The name "Betty" was chosen because it sounded cheery, and "Crocker" honored William Crocker, a director of the company that launched the brand and eventually became known as General Mills.
REAL: William Mathias Scholl, a Chicago podiatrist, invented an arch support in 1904 and formed Dr. Scholl's two years later. He continued to practice medicine while running the company until 1946, then focused on his role as chief executive until his death in 1968.. Over the years, Scholl developed more than 1,000 foot-care products.
REAL: Harlan Sanders began serving steaks, country ham and later fried chicken at a Shell station that he ran in Kentucky during the Great Depression. He received the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel in 1950, and the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise opened in 1952.
FAKE: The iconic coffee farmer was dreamed up by the ad agency DDB Worldwide. Introduced in 1958, Juan Valdez was more than a pitchman for a coffee brand; he represented the entire National Federation of Coffee Growers of Columbia.
FAKE: The "demanding" Colombian coffee buyer from those famous Savarin Coffee ads in the 1960s and '70s wasn't a coffee aficionado at all. He was actor Ricardo Montalbán's brother, Carlos.
REAL: In 1935 Hines published "Adventures in Good Eating," a paperback in which he recommended restaurants that he and his wife had visited while traveling around the country. In 1952 he started selling bread under the Duncan Hines name. Cake mixes were introduced soon afterward.
FAKE (more or less): Old Ben is supposed to have been based upon a real rice grower, though his name was never revealed. His image, however, is reportedly that of Frank Brown, an elderly maître d' at a restaurant in Chicago frequented by a company executive.
REAL: A baker named Charles Lubin named a cheesecake after his eight-year-old daughter, Sara Lee, who eventually became a prominent philanthropist. She never took up baking.
FAKE: "Old Aunt Jemima" was the title of a vaudeville song written back in 1875; the character then became prominent in minstrel shows. Aunt Jemima pancake mix dates back to 1893. The likeness on the box is said to be that of Anna Short Harrington, a professional cook who died in 1955. Her heirs unsuccessfully sought $2 billion in royalty payments just last year.
REAL: An Italian immigrant, Chef Ettore Boiardi had a restaurant in Cleveland. When he began selling jars and cans of his tomato sauce, he chose to do so under a name that Americans could pronounce more easily: "Chef Boy-Ar-Dee" (later changed to Chef Boyardee).
REAL: Sir Henry Morgan was a Welsh sailor who raided Spanish ships and towns in the Caribbean during the 17th century. He was later appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica. Who better to name Captain Morgan Rum after? (Never mind that it's made in Puerto Rico.)
REAL: The 24-year-old German immigrant opened a butcher and sausage-making shop in Chicago in 1883 with his brother Gottfried. The Mayer family owned the Oscar Mayer company for nearly a century before finally selling it to General Foods in 1981.
REAL: As a talent agent at William Morris, Wally Amos used to send clients packages of his homemade chocolate chip cookies. He opened the first Famous Amos cookie shop in Los Angeles in 1975. Just seven years later the cookie brand's revenues had reached $2 billion.
REAL: Prince Giorgi Matchabelli was a member of the royal family of Georgia, once a part of the Russian Empire. He was also an amateur chemist. After the Bolshevik Revolution he and his wife fled to the United States, where the Prince Matchabelli Perfume Company was launched.
REAL: Debbi Fields and her then-husband Randy opened a bakery in Palo Alto, California, back in 1977. The company was sold in the '90s. Debbi now lives in Memphis with her new husband, former Holiday Inn and Harrah's CEO Michael Rose.
REAL: Maksymilian Faktorowicz began selling his own rouges, creams and other cosmetics at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, soon after he emigrated from Poland. Four years later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he built Max Factor cosmetics into a powerhouse and became makeup man to the stars. His clients included Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland.
REAL: In the 1930s Marie lived in a trailer park in Huntington Beach. In the late '40s her son Don Callender started a wholesale bakery—and named the business after his mother. The Marie Callender's restaurant chain followed, with the first coffee shop opening in 1964.
FAKE: C'mon, you didn't really think she was for real, did you?
REAL: The country singer ("Big Bad John" in 1961) and TV personality ("The Jimmy Dean Show" in '63) started the Jimmy Dean Sausage Company in 1969 with his brother Don. They sold the company to Sara Lee in 1984 for $80 million, and Jimmy bought a 107-foot yacht (called, you guessed it, "Big Bad John").
REAL: Born Josephine Esther Mentzer in New York City to a Hungarian beauty and a Czech businessman, "Esty" was trained early in the art of face creams by her chemist uncle—some of her earliest memories were of her mother's grooming rituals. She married her first beau, Joseph Lauter, and wore lipstick for the first time at her wedding.
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