Mental Floss

There Really Is a Little Debbie

Stacy Conradt
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Betty Crocker might sound like someone’s mom or grandma who perfected family recipes in her kitchen at home, but she’s a total marketing fabrication. The same goes for Mrs. Butterworth. Though her personage may be featured on the company’s pancake syrup bottle, it’s rumored that the bottle-lady was modeled on actress Butterfly McQueen, not someone’s flour-covered mother or auntie.

But Little Debbie? Little Debbie was real. Not only was she real, she’s alive and well and a major player in the billion-dollar company.

In 1934 – the middle of the Great Depression - O.D. McKee and his wife bought a failing bakery and sold small cakes to hungry people for rock-bottom prices. After a couple of attempts and a couple of locations, the McKees had a huge success on their hands and had to expand the headquarters in Chattanooga, Tenn., 13 times. They eventually added another building in Collegedale, Tenn.

Fun fact: Little Debbie’s bestsellers are the Oatmeal Creme Pies, Swiss Cake Rolls and Nutty Bars (my personal favorite).

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