he Little Debbie® brand, which is generally better known than McKee Foods Corporation, was not always a part of the company.
In 1960, McKee Foods founders O.D. and Ruth McKee were trying to come up with a catchy name for their new family-pack cartons of snack cakes. They began considering their grandchildren’s names as possibilities, but most of them just didn’t have the right ring. Thinking of what could be a good fit for the brand, they arrived at the name “Little Debbie,” which was inspired by a photo of their 4-year-old granddaughter Debbie. They decided to use the image of Debbie in her favorite cowgirl hat for the logo.
An Atlanta artist, Pearl Mann, did the original artwork for the four-color carton. Following instructions, she made the little girl look older, around 8 or 9. Minor changes were made in 1987. The goal was to update the trademark without drawing attention to the change. Some things weren’t changed at all. If you look closely at the Little Debbie® portrait on the packaging, you’ll see a crease in the hat where Debbie had actually sat on the brim at some point.
Before 1960, some years were profitable for McKee Foods and some were not, but the company has shown a profit every year since. The owners can cite several reasons for the turnaround, but everyone agrees a great deal of credit goes to the cute little girl in the cowgirl hat.
Since 1960, Little Debbie® snacks have remained a member of America’s households. Currently, they sell for less than other leading brands while providing quality ingredients. With more than 75 varieties, Little Debbie® snacks are available in all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico.