Logos You Didn’t Realize Were Actual People

Over 300 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Logos You Didn’t Realize Were Actual People
Voting Rules
Vote up the names you always think of as brands without realizing they were real people.

Do you ever take a look at your cabinets and shelves and ask, "Was Chef Boyardee a real person?" Or "What about Jimmy Dean? Or Uncle Ben? Were they real?"

Maybe you've come up with similar thoughts when lining up for fast food, pondering, "What was Colonel Sanders's real name?" or "Where is the Wendy's girl now?"

Popular logos draw upon numerous images and influences. Logos that feature people may include models like the famous Gerber Baby (Ann Turner Cook); Mia, the Indigenous woman who once appeared on Land O' Lakes packaging; and Nancy Green, the former Aunt Jemima.  

Often, logos include the likenesses of company founders or other real people you've never heard of. Sometimes logos draw upon the names and activities of several men and women. Here are some lesser-known instances of logos featuring actual people.

  • 1
    181 VOTES

    The Profile On The POW/MIA Flag Is Modeled On The Flag Designer's Son 

    The National League of Families POW/MIA flag, adopted in 1972, was drawn by Newt Heisley. A veteran of WWII, Heisley took inspiration from his own son's physical frailty when he drew the soldier on the flag.

    Jeffrey Heisley, 24 years old and preparing for a tour in Vietnam, had recently returned home after contracting hepatitis. The elder Heisley drew a profile of his gaunt son and incorporated it into his design. 

    181 votes
  • 2
    198 VOTES

    Uncle Sam Was A Musician Named Walter Botts Who Was Chosen By A Poster-Maker For His Distinct Features

    Indiana native Walter Botts "had the longest arms, the longest nose, and the bushiest eyebrows" of any of the potential models for the Army recruitment poster painted by artist James Montgomery Flagg during World War II. Botts was a veteran-turned-jazz musician who'd once modeled for Norman Rockwell before becoming the iconic "Uncle Sam." (The character had appeared in many illustrations previously, but this became the best-known incarnation.)

    The name for America's avuncular poster boy, however, is said to have derived from Samuel Wilson, a meatpacker who provided the U.S. Army barrels of beef during the War of 1812. 

    198 votes
  • 3
    185 VOTES

    The Columbia Pictures 'Torch Lady' Was Initially Based On The Woman Who Voiced The Blue Fairy In 'Pinocchio'

    Evelyn Venable, the actress who voiced the Blue Fairy in Disney's Pinocchio (1940), posed for the 1930s Columbia Pictures "Torch Lady" logo. The "Torch Lady" blended Venable's likeness and that of the Lady Columbia, the one-time female personification of America. Later revisions of the logo drew heavily upon the version featuring Venable. 

    185 votes
  • 4
    160 VOTES

    Johnnie Walker Was A Scottish Grocer Who Started Selling Spirits In The 1820s

    Johnnie Walker Was A Scottish Grocer Who Started Selling Spirits In The 1820s
    Photo: Tom Browne / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Walker bought opened his spirits shop in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland in 1820, where he sold gin, brandy, rum, and whiskey.

    Born John Walker in 1805, the teetotaler started selling his own brand of whiskey during the 1850s and, after his establishment flooded in 1852, expanded his business to the wholesale market at the advice of his son, Alexander. 

    160 votes
  • 5
    164 VOTES

    It's Possible Mr. Monopoly Was Based On J.P. Morgan

    It's largely believed that, at least in part, Mr. Monopoly - also known as Rich Uncle Pennybags - was based on banker and financier J.P. Morgan.

    Mr. Monopoly first appeared in 1936 and received his name 10 years later. Mr. Monopoly bore a strong resemblance to Little Esky (a little figure seen on the covers of Esquire magazine), who was also said to have been modeled off of Morgan. 

    164 votes
  • 6
    180 VOTES

    Uncle Ben Was A Popular Texas Rice Farmer Who Had Nothing To Do With The Company That Used His Name

    Uncle Ben Was A Popular Texas Rice Farmer Who Had Nothing To Do With The Company That Used His Name
    Photo: Amazon

    Uncle Ben was an actual rice farmer from Texas, and legendary among rice growers and consumers. As founder Gordon Harwell looked to name the rice brand during the early 1940s, he opted to use the name Uncle Ben, but needed a visual. As he dined in Chicago one night, Harwell spotted maitre d'hotel Frank Brown, whom he paid to sit for a portrait.

    Brown became the personification of Uncle Ben.  As of 2020, the brand announced that it may change its company name and visual identity. 

    180 votes