Baking

Who Is “Little Debbie”?

Michael C. asks: Was there ever a real Little Debbie or is she a fake mascot like so many other brand people?

Little Debbie
Images Courtesy of McKee Foods Corporation and Women of Distinction

Who is Little Debbie? The simple answer is that she’s the straw-hat-wearing, blue-eyed little girl on the front of the box of delicious confectioneries like Oatmeal Creme Pies, Honey Buns and whatever Star Crunches are. However, that’s not all she is. “Little Debbie” is also the Executive Vice President of McKee Foods, the eight-decade-old still family run company that makes all of these treats – plus Zebra Cakes and Cosmic Brownies. Her real name is actually Debbie McKee-Fowler and here’s how she became the face – and Executive Vice President – of the company that makes Swiss Rolls.

It was 1933 and the country was in the throes of the Great Depression. Nearly a quarter of the nation was unemployed and bread lines went blocks; in short, many were desperate, including O.D. and Ruth McKee who had lost most of their money due to a bank failure. What the couple did still have, however, was a 1928 Whippet car. According to McKee Foods’ official history, this was when O.D. started selling five-cent Virginia Dare Cakes made by Becker’s Bakery out of the back of said vehicle. By the next year, business was good enough that they were able to purchase a Chattanooga, Tennessee bakery, Jack’s Cookie Company.

In what was a unique arrangement for the time, Ruth became a full managing partner in the business with her husband. While O.D. traveled the state making sales and coming up with some innovative ways to produce new product, she baked, managed the office and took charge of the few employees they had. They were, as the company’s official history put it, “ideal business partners because her cautious, conservative nature was the perfect complement to his risk-taking, adventuresome spirit.”

Years later, Jack McKee would explain that his parents had “a unique opportunity during the Great Depression and they took a risk.” A few months later, the bet seemed to be paying off with the bakery moving to a larger location down the street.

But all wasn’t perfect. In 1934, they took on Ruth’s father, Symon King, as a partner. It’s not clear why they did this, perhaps they needed…

Apple Roses Are as Easy to Make as They Are Beautiful

Though there is something rewarding and cathartic about baking a finicky, labor-intensive dessert, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy an easy, though still fancy-looking sweet thing. Apple roses are not only deliciously warm and comforting, but they’re just plain pretty, and a cinch to make.

My boy Justin Chapple can walk you through the whole process in the video above, but all you’ll need is a few apples, some puff pastry, cinnamon sugar, and…

Save Time and Money With These 15 Delicious Sheet Pan Meals

Feel like you’re constantly stuck in a dinner rut? Don’t turn into the drive-thru lane again for a quick dinner solution. Instead, use sheet pan meals to cook a delicious dinner, all in one pan.

The best part about sheet pan meals is that there are endless options. Below are 15 recipes, but feel free to tweak them to your desire. These meals are practically foolproof. (See also: 10 One Pot Meals That Will Transform Dinner)

1. Ultimate Chicken Nachos

Nachos can’t really be dinner, can they? You bet they can, and your family will love you for it. Spread an overlapping layer of chips on your metal sheet pan, then top with grated cheese, cooked chicken pieces, diced tomatoes, corn kernels, and canned pinto or black beans. You can even add sliced jalapeños if you’d like.

Bake at 400º for 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately sprinkle chopped cilantro on the finished chips. Top with your favorite wet ingredients (sour cream, guacamole, salsa, etc.) and enjoy!

2. Ratatouille

You won’t miss the meat in this dish. Use a mandolin or vegetable slicer to save time. Cut Yukon potatoes, zucchinis, yellow squash, and eggplant into small coin shapes. Next, open a can of tomato puree and add a thin layer on your sheet pan. Season with salt, then arrange the sliced vegetables in an overlapping fashion. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

Bake the ratatouille for 35 minutes in a 375º oven. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve with crusty bread for a complete meal.

3. Lemon Garlic Salmon and Green Beans

Baking salmon on top of green beans, or a vegetable with a similar cooking time, makes for a yummy, heart-healthy meal.

Layer the green beans on a nonstick sheet pan. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup of olive oil, the juice of two lemons, a dash of salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Dip the salmon fillets in the oil mixture and then lay them skin side up on the green beans.

Broil on high for eight to 10 minutes. Make sure the oven is fully hot before sticking your fish in, and check the fish at the eight-minute mark. It should flake easily with a fork.

4. Cilantro Lime Chicken Fajitas

Cut raw chicken breasts, onions, and bell peppers into strips. In a bag or bowl, mix ½ cup of oil, ¼ cup lime juice, finely chopped cilantro, and a packet of taco seasoning….

The Messy History of the Pie Fight

The second-best use for baked goods is the cinematic pie fight. Getting a whipped cream-topped pie to the face is a great visual, certainly more pleasant than other thrown foods, and doesn’t leave major injuries. A timeline of pie fights in movies gives us stories of notorious pie fights. The earliest existing example of the pie in the face is from 1909, followed by a full-blown fight in 1913. Even Dr….