Who Is Little Debbie? The Real Lady Behind the Snack Cakes

For years she’s been shrouded in mystery—beloved by some, reviled by others. She’s gone by many names. Names such as Deborah of the Divine Confection, Giant Deborah’s Second Cousin, and Deb. Her face adorns boxes of Honey Buns, Swiss Rolls, and Oatmeal Creme Pies.

Indeed, her name may be Little Debbie, but she’s a giant enigma. Today we answer the question “Who is little Debbie?” once and for all!

So…Who is Little Debbie? And what does she have to do with snack cakes?

Turns out unlike Larry the Quaker dude, Little Debbie was (and still is) a real person! She is the real-life granddaughter of real-life person O.D. McKee. Now this may leave you wondering, “Who the heck is O.D. McKee?” Well, he and his wife Ruth are none other than the founders of the not-so-little company responsible for the creation of Little Debbie’s, McKee Foods. They started selling snack cakes out of the back of their car during the Great Depression, then eventually invested in a bakery storefront. By the ’50s their company was huge. In the ’60s, when their packaging supplier suggested that they use “a family member’s name to market the new family pack of Oatmeal Creme Pies,” they went with their four-year-old granddaughter, Susan. JUST KIDDING! Her name was Debbie, of course. And this marketing tactic turned out to be just the thing they needed to grow their business into the saccharine snack cake stronghold that it is today. Apparently, Little Debbie and her parents actually didn’t know her face had been incorporated into the packaging until one day they saw it on the boxes – her likeness having been illustrated by the famous pin-up artist Pearl Frush Mann to create the iconic image of Little Debbie we know and love to this day. 

Speaking of “the Iconic Little Debbie we know and love to this day”, where is Little Debbie now?

Wouldn’t you believe it, Debbie is helping run the company, y’all. Not all of McKee Foods, but at least the part that makes Little Debbie’s. Plus, she’s on the board of directors for McKee Foods. Seriously though, Deborah McKee-Fowler is the Executive Vice President of the whole company. Looks like Little Debbie has made some big strides since her “being four years old and nothing more than a figurehead” days. So not only is Little Debbie an icon, a snack cake queen, and the crown ruler of creme pies, but she is also an inspiration to us all. And so, now that we know she is no longer “Little Debbie” but “Average-Sized Adult Debbie,” let us close with a word from Rhett & Link

Average-sized adult Deborah, hear our call.

You are average-sized, not giant or small.

We hunger for your snacky treats.

Your pie is all we want to eat.

We pledge our loyalty for all you do,

Average-sized adult Deborah—Please! Come! Through!


About the Author

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a freelance contributor to Sporked, a comedian, a baker, a food writer, and a firm believer that Trader Joe's may just be the happiest place on earth. She loves spicy snacks, Oreos, baking bread, teeny tiny avocados, and trying new foods whenever she can. Also, if you give her a bag of Takis she will be your best friend.

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