Food companies, more so than any other industry, have used people’s names and incorporate portraits into their logos, perhaps because a person conjures up an image of home cooking instead of the reality of food being processed in giant stainless steel vats. Since they say you have to be true to your brand, I was wondering whether or not some brands were named after real people.

Listed below are five well-known brands whose name is accompanied by an image of a person. In branding’s version of “Dead or Alive”, guess whether they’re based on people real or imagined. The answers are below.

1. Lipton’s Tea  2. Sun-Maid Raisins   3. Betty Crocker   4. Smith Brothers Cough Drops  5. Chef Boyardee

1. Lipton’s Tea. Real. Sir Thomas Lipton started Lipton Tea at the end of the nineteenth century. It is his face that appeared on early packaging. Lipton took the marketing skills he learned in America back to Scotland, where he was born, and started a grocery store. His grocery empire eventually grew to twenty stores. On his way to Australia one time, he stopped off in Ceylon. Disease had decimated Ceylon’s coffee industry that year, so plantation owners had started growing tea instead. Lipton bought five bankrupt plantations so he could supply his own stores with tea.                 

2. Sun-Maid Raisins. Real. Lorraine Collett Petersen, the woman portrayed on the Sun-Maid raisin box was an employee of the California Associated Raisin Company. In 1915, they had a booth at an International Exposition in San Francisco. They hired several young women, including Ms. Petersen, to walk around the fairgrounds passing out samples of their raisins, which they had named Sun-Maid. The women all wore white blouses, a thin kerchief, and a red bonnet.  In the afternoon, Ms. Petersen flew overhead in a plane sprinkling raisins on the crowd below. At one point, she was asked to pose for an illustration they were creating for their new packaging. Ms. Petersen kept the red bonnet until 1976, when she presented it to the company, now called Sun-Diamond Growers of California. 

3. Betty Crocker. Imagined. Betty Crocker was invented by the advertising department of Washburn Crosby, a milling company, as a way to give personalized responses to consumer product questions. The name Betty was selected because it was viewed as a cheery, all-American name. The last name was in honor of William Crocker, a Washburn Crosby Company director. The current image of Betty Crocker is a combination of 75 real-life women of diverse backgrounds and ages.

4. Smith Brothers Cough Drops. Real. James Smith bought a cough drop recipe from a peddler in 1852 and sold them out of his small restaurant. When he died, his two sons, William and Andrew inherited the business, and began manufacturing the cough drops on a larger scale. In fact, the brothers developed one of the first factory filled packages with trademark branding. Interestingly, on the packaging, the word “trade” appeared below one brother’s name and “mark” under the other, leading people to incorrectly assume that their names were Trade Smith and Mark Smith.

5. Chef Boyardee. Real. Chef Hector Boiardi was real and a fantastic cook. His brother got him a job as a waiter at the Plaza Hotel in New York, where he later became a chef. His sauce was so popular that patrons began asking for extra to take home with them. He eventually started canning the sauce and other products, changing the spelling of his name to make it easier for people to pronounce.

I guess most companies are true to their brand. It’s also true that all this talk of food has made me hungry.