The Faces Behind...Some of the most popular brands we use today have founders behind them who not only gave their blood, sweat, and tears, but also their names. For instance, Captain Morgan may not be real, but Johnnie Walker is. He once left his home in Scotland to peddle malt whiskies. Taco Bell, one of America's favorite fast food chains, wasn't named after a Spanish-style mission, but a Mr. Glen Bell. And if you think some of IKEA's product names are difficult to pronounce, wait until you find out what I.K.E.A. stands for.
In 1805, John Walker was born and not long after, the recipe for the world's favorite Scotch Whisky brand was created. Walker's story began in Kilmarnock, Scotland. As a young man, Walker left the family farm to follow his entrepreneurial spirit. He became a grocer, trading a wide variety of goods; tea was his specialty. It was his skill at blending tea leaves that gave Walker the idea for blending grain and malt whiskies to create a smoother drink and more consistent quality.
Glen Bell was 23 when he left the Marine Corps. in 1946, and came home to San Bernardino, Calif. He would own a hot dog stand, three Taco Tia stands and several El Tacos restaurants before building the first Taco Bell in Downey, Calif. in 1962.
As a teen, Irvine Robbins worked in his father's ice cream store. During World War II, Burton Baskin, was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and produced ice cream for his fellow troops. When the war was over, they started out in separate ventures and by 1948, they had six store between them. In 1953, their combined ice cream chain dropped their separate identities and became Baskin-Robbins.
In 1946, Earl Tupper introduced plastic storage ware with legendary airtight seals patterned after the inverted rim on a can of paint which prevented food from drying out, wilting or losing its flavor. Despite their breakthrough nature, the products didn't sell well in retail outlets, primarily because consumers needed demonstrations in order to see how they worked. In response, the first Tupperware Home Party was held in 1948. This proved a dramatically effective way of communicating the benefits of the seal.
In 1908, while in his late 30s, Marquis M. Converse fell down a flight of steps in Malden, Massachusetts. The incident gave him the idea of rubber soled shoes, to prevent one from slipping. A year later, Marquis founded Converse and began producing rubbed-soled footwear for men, women, and children.
In 1869, Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician and dentist by profession, successfully pasteurized Concord grape juice to produce an "unfermented sacramental wine" for fellow parishioners at his church in Vineland, N.J., where he was communion steward. His achievement marked the beginning of the processed fruit juice industry. In 1893, a new label was adopted, omitting the "Dr." before the name Welch's.
The name was inspired by the renaissance Englishman, John Evelyn, who lived in the 17th century. Evelyn is most famous for 'Sylva,' the first important work on conservation. His great estate was planted with large expanses of elm trees, and the magnificent gardens he created were a wonder of the age. The Crabtree is native to Britain and the ancestor of all cultivated apple trees. It was highly prized for its beauty as well as its usefulness in home apothecary.
Hector Boiardi was born in Italy in 1898 and took up cooking at a young age. In 1917, he immigrated to New York and began working in the kitchens of hotels. He later moved to Cleveland, where he opened his own restaurant. Il Giardino d'Italia became quite popular and patrons began requesting portions to take home. He packaged up uncooked pasta, cheese, and his popular sauce, poured into milk bottles. He marketed the pasta as Chef Boy-ar-dee, spelled phonetically for Americans. (Photo: AOL)
Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards, Inc., lived the American dream. Born Aug. 29, 1891, in tiny David City, Neb., Hall overcame both poverty and a lack of a formal education to become the architect of an industry. In the 1920s he wanted to substitute the phrase, "A Hallmark Card," for "Hall Brothers Company" on the back of greeting cards. "Everybody in the place was against it," he said, but he made the change.
The IKEA story began in 1931, when founder Ingvar Kamprad started selling matches to his nearby neighbors at the age of five. Later he would branch out into selling flower seeds, greeting cards, Christmas Decorations, and eventually, furniture. The name IKEA is an acronym for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd. This mouthful is derived from the founder's name, the name "Elmtaryd" (the farm on which he was raised) and "Agunnaryd", the nearest village.
MAX Factor & Co. was founded by Max Factor, Sr., who began as a makeup man for the Royal Ballet in Czarist Russia. As a young man in 1904, he emigrated from his native country to New York. Later that same year, he moved to St. Louis, Mo., where he opened a small perfume, makeup and hair goods concession at the St. Louis World's Fair. Four years later, the family moved to Los Angeles, Calif., where Max Factor opened his first store in the center of the city's theatrical district.