Behind Brand Names 3

By Julia Maish |

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“Time to Savor”
--Marie Callender advertising slogan

“An American Tradition Since 1912”
--Lorna Doone advertising slogan

“Love at First Bite”
--Red Baron advertising slogan

“All Together Better”
--Land O’Lakes advertising slogan

Here are some more of the stories behind our favorite grocery store brands:

Marie Callender – Her products are a familiar sight in grocery store freezer cases, but did you know that Marie Callender was a real person, and that her name is also synonymous with a chain of restaurants? A South Dakota native, Marie and her husband were living in a trailer park and she was working part-time in a southern California deli when its proprietor suggested that she bake a few pies for a snack bar he was adding to the establishment. Marie and her mother got to work in her home kitchen, and her creations were so popular that in 1948, her boss encouraged her to sell the family car and invest the capital in her own wholesale baking business, and eventually in a pie café. Once she started offering free slices of pie and coffee to passersby, the business took off and eventually morphed into a multimillion-dollar chain of full-service eateries (28 of them still survive, in California, Nevada, and Wyoming), featuring many of her own recipes. Fun facts: Marie’s first bakery was a rented Quonset hut, and her son (later CEO of the company) delivered her pies on a bicycle.

Lorna Doone – This ubiquitous square shortbread cookie, an enduring presence in cookie jars across America, has been in existence since March 1912. There are several claimants to its invention, but it was most likely dreamed up by Emily Malloy, an Irish immigrant who, with her husband John, ran a Chicago bakery. It is thought that Emily named the cookie after the title character of a bestselling 1869 novel by R.D. Blackmore, but nobody knows for sure. Once their bakery closed, John Malloy sold Emily’s recipe to the same company that in 1891 introduced the Fig Newton (which, by the way, was named for the town of Newton, Massachusetts). Both, of course, are still going strong. Fun fact: “Lorna Doone” is also the name of a character featured in two short films starring The Three Stooges.

Red Baron – If you guessed the frozen pizza brand name Red Baron is connected with Snoopy’s famous adversary in Charles Schulz’s iconic Peanuts comic strip, you are correct! Launched in 1976, the Schwan Company chose the name to capitalize on the popularity of the comic. The real Red Baron, of course, was a German World War I flying ace named Manfred von Richthoven, an aristocrat with a red airplane whose marksmanship was the downfall of numerous Allied pilots. Fun fact: The real von Richthoven was clean-shaven, but the pizza-box Red Baron sports a bushy mustache – it is said that the designer was inspired by one of the biggest stars of the mid-1970s: Tom Selleck.

Land O’Lakes – This manufacturer of dairy products, purveyor of butter, cream, cheese, eggs, and more, was launched in 1921 when a group of more than 300 dairy farmers came together to form the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association. How did the company get its name, befitting a concern founded in a state where the official motto is “The Land of 10,000 Lakes?” From the company’s website: “In need of a catchy brand for the co-op’s sweet cream butter, the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association host[ed] a contest with $500 in gold offered as the prize. Ida Foss and George Swift each walk[ed] away a winner for submitting the name, you guessed it, Land O'Lakes. And the runners up? Maid O' the West and Tommy Tucker.” A few months ago, ahead of its centennial, Land O’Lakes announced that it was retiring its longtime logo, featuring an indigenous woman known as Mia the Butter Maiden, in favor of something more culturally sensitive. Fun fact: Not everyone was happy about this change.

More stories behind brand names in a future entry!

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