You probably recognize a lot of brands by their mascots.
McDonald's has its clown Ronald, Wendy's has its pigtailed Wendy. The entire cereal industry has longstanding visibility in the American public largely because of mascots.
But while they may seem larger than life, some brand mascots are based on real people.
The redheaded, pigtailed girl in the Wendy's logo is indeed a real person, and she's still alive today.
The mascot for the restaurant chain is based on Melinda Thomas, the daughter of Wendy's founder R. David Thomas. People reported in 1990 that Melinda beat out her other siblings in being the namesake of their father's restaurant chain.
The eight-year-old's portrait, taken in 1969, became the iconic mascot for the brand.
The Sun-Maid Woman
The woman on the front of Sun-Maid rising boxes is a real person.
According to Sun-Maid, the mascot was based off the image of a woman named Lorraine Collett Petersen, a 17-year-old girl from Missouri who was working as a seeder, packer, and promoter for a subsidiary of the Sun-Maid company in Fresno. In 1910, she was stopped in the middle of drying her hair and was asked to hold a basket tray of grapes for a watercolor portrait.
Her face would first appear on Sun-Maid boxes in 1916, and would remain with slight changes over the years up until today.
The Uncle Ben you see on the boxes of rice isn't the real Uncle Ben. But he did exist.
According to the Museum of Public Relations, Uncle Ben was a black Texan rice farmer whose crop continuously won awards for its outstanding quality.
In 1932, German and British chemists Erich Huzenlaub and Francis Heron Rogers refined a process to make more nutritious parboiled rice and started the Converted Rice Company. The company itself didn't have any ties to Uncle Ben — he was dead by the time they started the company.
But Huzenlaub and Rogers took Ben's name, leveraged his reputation, and named their product after him. The two based the mascot's likeness on a Chicago maitre d' named Frank Brown.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider