The Real Story Behind The Little Debbie Logo

Little Debbie is actually anything but what the name suggests, as it's one of the biggest and most successful snack food brands in the world. The story of how the brand got its iconic logo and name is an interesting one that involves a grandfather's pride and a famous artist.

McKee Foods is the company that produces Little Debbie-branded snacks, and the family that shares its name had an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion in 2015 according to Forbes. Zippia says that McKee Foods' total revenue grew to $1.7 billion in 2021 and the company employs just under 6,000 people. None of that would have been possible without the ingenuity of McKee Foods founder O.D. McKee during the Great Depression, however.

CityScope reveals that O.D. and his wife Ruth moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, during the Depression and sold their baked goods with great success despite the tough economic conditions. A new marketing push decades later would change things forever and became the secret of the snacks' logo.

Debbie was near and dear to founder O.D. McKee

According to Little Debbie, Debbie is both a real person and she was actually little at the time of the logo's creation. She's a part of the McKee family, as she is O.D. and Ruth McKee's granddaughter. McKee Foods commissioned artist Pearl Mann to create the illustration of Debbie (who was four years old at the time according to TMZ) in 1960.

The Pin-Up Files says that at that time, Mann was already an established artist known for her work in pin-up drawings and watercolors. Little Debbie says that the portrait was and remains an integral part of the marketing for its line of snack cakes today. The rest of the story of what happened to the actual Little Debbie is a narrative of how Debbie, aka Debra McKee-Fowler, serves as McKee Foods' executive vice-president (per Who Net Worth).

Just as the real McKee-Fowler is no longer little, there have been slight alterations over the years to the logo. Yahoo! Finance explains how McKee Foods has made three small changes over the decades, including making Debbie's hair darker and changing the shade of blue in her shirt. The last update to the logo came in 2013. Similar to how McKee Foods hasn't messed with the recipe of one of its original and most-popular snack cakes, it could prove foolish to do too much to change up the Little Debbie logo. It's an American classic.