1930s - 1950s
THE EARLY YEARS
OD McKee with the Family Whippet
During the week, OD took the back seat out of the family’s 1928 Whippet so he could use the car for a sales vehicle.
THE FIRST CAKES
O.D. McKee begins selling 5¢ cakes for Becker’s Bakery, using his 1928 Whippet as his delivery truck.
THE OATMEAL CREME PIE
It was the middle of the Great Depression when O.D. McKee began experimenting with the hard oatmeal cookies his little shop was baking at the time. He made formula changes to make the cookie soft, and sandwiched two cookies together with a fluffy creme filling. He sold these new “creme pies” for a nickel a piece.
MCKEE BAKING COMPANY
In 1954, the McKee family purchased King’s Bakery, later renaming the business to McKee Baking Company in 1962.
NEW PLANT IN COLLEGEDALE, TENNESSEE
A modern plant was built in Collegedale, Tennessee. In order to keep up with production demand, an all-new line of snack cakes and pies was developed, which would help to usher in the beginning of the Little Debbie brand.
NUTTY BUDDY® BARS
The first Nutty Bars® wafer bars were first sold in 1959, starting a crunchy, peanut-buttery craze that lives on today!
THE BRAND IS BORN
INTRODUCTION OF THE FAMILY PACK
In 1960, McKee Baking Company pioneered the “family pack,” a family sized carton of 12 or more cellophane wrapped cakes. Individually sold, 12 cakes would sell for a total of 60¢. The price of the new 12-count family pack carton was 49¢.
LITTLE DEBBIE® IS CREATED
Ever wonder where the name Little Debbie came from? From O.D. McKee’s granddaughter, of course! O.D. thought his granddaughter, Debbie, would be the perfect face for his delicious treats, and on August 23, 1960, the brand was born.
LITTLE DEBBIE PORTRAIT BY PEARL MANN
The first full-color Little Debbie portrait was created in 1960, the same year as the original line art version. It was introduced on packaging later in the year. Pearl Mann's illustrations were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but none of her best-known works are as recognizable and enduring as the Little Debbie portrait. Although the portrait has been modified slightly through the years, it endures to this day and is seen by millions of shoppers and snackers daily!
FULL COLOR CARTONS
By 1962 several different varieties of Little Debbie snacks were available with full color cartons that showed off delicious pictures of the snacks!
SWISS CAKE ROLLS
O.D. McKee took a trip to a European trade show looking for “the next big thing.” The cake, a miniaturized version of a popular dessert called “roulade”, was being crafted by several bakeries he toured. Once back in Tennessee, he started production on two lines and the Swiss Rolls were added to the Little Debbie line up a year later.
Little Debbie Portrait
The first full-color Little Debbie portrait was created in 1960 and was introduced on packaging later that year.
The Little Debbie Song
This kid friendly favorite featured the Little Debbie Song on side A.
THE LITTLE DEBBIE BOW TIE INTRODUCED
A graphic artist decided a red bow tie would look great on the packaging and would complement the original portrait logo. The designers began placing it just above the opening slot on all Little Debbie cartons at the time. You can still spot this original logo on some current Little Debbie packaging! Have you spotted it?
ALL ABOUT THE CLASSICS
Did you know all the products made in 1964 still exist today? Here are the classics: Banana Twins, Swiss Rolls, Zebra® Cakes, Raisin Creme Pies, Nutty Buddy® and, of course, Oatmeal Creme Pies. Many of these items hit the market in 1964 under the Little Debbie brand!
LITTLE DEBBIE VINYL RECORD
Hot on the heels of Little Debbie success, someone came up with the novel idea to produce a vinyl record with the Little Debbie song on one side and a children's story on the other. Vinyl records were all the rage in the '60s and this record proved popular with kids then, and collectors today. The 45 RPM record featured the Little Debbie Song on side A sung by the Children's Chorus with Orchestra. The words were printed on the back of the record sleeve, and the story was narrated by Jean Ward.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
In 1965, THE ADDY, the OSCAR of advertising, was awarded to McKee Foods for a series of Little Debbie television commercials. Background music for each spot featured the Little Debbie jingle and showed bright-eyed youngsters in lively fun situations like parties, the circus, and playtime, all centered around the enjoyment of Little Debbie cakes and pies.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE ROLLS
Did you know Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls were originally sprinkled with sugar and called Jelly Rolls? They became Strawberry Shortcake Rolls in 1994, almost 30 years after they were introduced!
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS IN COLLEGEDALE, TENNESSEE
Construction begins on a second plant when the original Collegedale plant could no longer keep up with production demands. Plant 2 was built less than one mile from the original manufacturing plant. New ideas and techniques were introduced to the manufacturing process which made new production records possible.
SEASONAL CAKES INTRODUCED
Introducing the first seasonal snack, Chocolate Party Cakes became a quick fan favorite for Christmastime. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” quite like twinkling lights, carols and Party Cakes!
In January of 1969, Fudge Brownies are introduced to the Little Debbie Family Pack line up. Featuring a classic fudgey brownie with English walnuts, these popular snacks are still seen on shelves today and are just as scrumptious!
It's a classic! Check out this original packaging for Fudge Brownies.
THE START OF A NEW GROOVE
In this original packaging circa 1970s, note the focus on the moon! These delightful treats were originally called Moon Crunch Snacks.
STAR CRUNCH® SNACKS BLAST OFF
Did you know Star Crunch® Cosmic® Cookies were introduced as Moon Crunch Snacks in celebration of the 1969 moon landing? These treats were renamed in 1972, but their origins will always be out of this world!
A delightful chocolatey treat! Introduced in 1972, Little Debbie Devil Squares have been a staple in pantries since. But it wasn’t until 2015 that the fudge striping was added, making them the snack you see on shelves today.
Cliff Dildy, a McKee Foods employee and product innovator in his own right, came up with the idea for this timeless treat. Since there were no other products like it on the market, the wave of fudge striping easily became recognizable as a Little Debbie snack. During his 32 years of service, Cliff had a hand in a number of creations. Thanks, Idea Man!
PEANUT BUTTER CRUNCH
Introduced as Little Debbie Peanut Butter Bars in December 1977, Peanut Butter Crunch Bars are still found on shelves today!
THE TOTALLY RAD YEARS
SNACK CAKE OF THE 1982 WORLD’S FAIR
Little Debbie snack cakes were designated as “The Official Snack Cake of the 1982 World’s Fair” in Knoxville, Tennessee from May to October 1982. The brand sponsored a troupe of magicians who performed tricks and gave away tokens for free snack cakes. The Sunsphere, an icon from the World’s Fair, is still seen in downtown Knoxville today!
Dunkable and delicious, by 1983 Little Debbie fans began enjoying scrumptious glazed Donut Sticks! Introduced as Dunk’em Sticks, these treats are a must have for so many people’s busy mornings and remain a fan favorite today!
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS
A Little Debbie doll made by Horsman Inc. is sold on back panels to consumers to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the brand.
LITTLE DEBBIE GOES COAST TO COAST
Our snack cakes are officially sold in all 48 contiguous states!
RICH LITTLE & LITTLE DEBBIE
Starting in 1985 and running through 1989, Little Debbie commercials featuring comedian Rich Little were seen in homes across America. These advertisements portrayed the impersonator as many familiar faces, such as Humphrey Bogart of Casablanca and Jimmy Stewart of It’s a Wonderful Life.
The Official Snack Cake of the
1982 World's Fair
Little Debbie sponsored a troupe of magicians who performed tricks and gave away tokens for free snack cakes.
Christmas Tree Cakes®
Do you remember their original triangular shape and chocolate trunk? Check out this fun carton from 1988!
A LEGEND IS BORN
Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes are one of the most iconic snacks around. Do you remember their original triangular shape and chocolate trunk? Even though the classic scalloped tree shape wasn’t introduced until 2012, nothing says “Christmastime” quite like these festive treats!
Do you remember Figaroos? The original name for the now timeless Fig Bars were introduced this year! Even though the name and packaging has changed, the delicious taste is as classic as ever and can still be spotted on the shelf!
CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKES
The perfect mini compliment to milk, coffee or tea, Little Debbie Chocolate Chip Cakes hit the market and are still found on shelves today.
Another fan favorite, Fancy Cakes have been among the most popular and recognizable treats in the Little Debbie cake lineup. Have you spotted their delicate pink carton lately on shelves?
These delicious treats have been the perfect complement to a tall glass of milk since the 80s. They might even remind you of Grandma’s house with their tasty memories!
SALTED CARAMEL COOKIES BARS
Introduced in March 1988, Little Debbie Salted Caramel Cookies Bars quickly became a favorite among loyal brand fans and it’s still a popular item found on grocery store shelves today.
FROSTED FUDGE CAKES
Do you remember Choco Cakes? Maybe not, but before the scrumptious Little Debbie® Frosted Fudge Cakes got a name change, Choco Cakes was the name!
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS FEATURE FILM
And action…Do you remember the giant Oatmeal Creme Pie from the classic ‘80s film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? This was the first Little Debbie product ever featured in a movie! Shortly after, a giant model of the Oatmeal Creme Pie was created for the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure at Walt Disney World in Florida.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Adventure
Marylee, a member of the McKee Foods family, poses with her sister in 1990 at the giant Oatmeal Creme Pie.
SHAKING THINGS UP
Welcome to the World Wide Web
In 1996, LittleDebbie.com launched! A lot has changed since then, but we're still #1!
AN INTERSTELLAR THANKSGIVING
Who says the sky is the limit when it comes to promotional opportunities? In 1991, Little Debbie products went to outer space with the space shuttle Atlantis! Pumpkin Delights®, along with many other items, were stored in the pantry to help the crew celebrate Thanksgiving.
Before 1991, this delicious treat was not called by the name it is known for now. Originally known as “Little Debbie Vanilla Snack Cakes” is wasn’t until the early 90s that the product became the famously loved treat we all know today – Zebra Cakes!
These delightful treats have been spinning into homes since 1992!
NORTH TO THE FUTURE
Little Debbie snacks are sold in Alaska!
LITTLE DEBBIE GOES DIGITAL
Welcome to the cyber age with littledebbie.com! Even though our website has evolved over the years, it has always been a popular hub to learn about our snacks, find special activities and participate in fun promotions!
Select Little Debbie snacks go international selling to Canada! You can find favorites such as Oatmeal Creme Pie, Honey Buns and Zebra Cakes all on Canadian shelves with dual-language boxes in English and French! C'est amusant!
Sugar pie, honey bun! Do you remember the Sugar Pie, Honey Bun commercial from 1999? It’s a classic! This catchy jingle promoted Little Debbie Honey Buns, first seen on shelves in 1994.
CHRISTMAS TREE BROWNIES
The holiday season got sweeter in December of 1999! Little Debbie Christmas Tree Brownies are officially introduced to the lineup right beside those delicious Christmas Tree Cakes.
In September 1999, a star was born! Did you know the galactic treat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies were originally created because of the Cosmic Bowling trend? Yep, these iconic brownies celebrate out-of-this-world with bowling alleys in mind!
An Out of This World Treat
Perfectly portioned snack? Check. Fun to share? Check. Classic chocolate treat? Check! Cosmic Brownies are here to stay!
UNWRAP A SMILE®
A New Millennium
Little Debbie celebrated 40 Years at the start of the new millennium!
CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF VALUE
The Little Debbie 40th anniversary was celebrated with the release of a special Little Debbie party cake that was only available for 12 weeks. Other festivities included special merchandise available through the back panels of certain products, such as a Hot Wheels Little Debbie tractor-trailer and a Little Debbie’s collector plate for adults, as well as a special Little Debbie Barbie doll.
Little Debbie Family Packs hit the shelves in Mexico with dual language boxes in English and Spanish. Did you know, in Mexico, Oatmeal Creme Pies are called Encremaditos?
CHOCOLATE CHIP CREME PIES
This deliciously classic twist on chocolate chip cookies hits shelves in 2003!
RACING TO THE FINISH LINE
Little Debbie Racing debuts for the 2006 NASCAR® Nextel Cup season. The #21 Ford Fusion is introduced at Daytona Speedway with NASCAR driver Ken Schrader at the wheel.
CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES LAUNCH
New Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes are introduced with a coast-to-coast Share-A-Thon Cupcake Car tour! A team of McKee Foods representatives gave out nearly 200,000 free cupcakes in a three-and-a-half month, 21-city extravaganza. The Chocolate Cupcake development team tested more than 200 recipes before agreeing on the snack we enjoy today. Now that’s tasty!
SOCIAL MEDIA MANIA
Little Debbie goes online with Facebook and Twitter! Our Facebook and Twitter pages are on the up and up. Today, we boast with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a combined over 3 million followers!
Little Debbie introduced bagged Frosted and Powdered Mini Donuts! Previously, these treats had been offered in boxes. New mini donut flavors continued to hit the shelves, such as Glazed, Cinnamon Sugar, Strawberry, and Double Chocolate creating a mini poppable frenzy!
Little Debbie Share-A-Thon Cupcake Tour
Sharing is always encouraged, especially when it's a delectable Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcake!
TODAY, WE BAKE®
Gigantic OCP Feeds Crowd
Look at that cookie! Look at that creme! It has been stated that there were no leftovers.
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LITTLE DEBBIE BRAND
As part of the Little Debbie 50th-anniversary celebration, McKee Foods held a national “Little Debbie Look-a-Like Contest” for children between the ages of 4 and 8. More than 900 children submitted photos to the company’s website, and 10 finalists were flown to Atlanta for the final competition. The winner received a $5,000 scholarship and a generous supply of Little Debbie snacks.
WORLD’S LARGEST OATMEAL CREME PIE
This gigantic OCP weighed in at 125 lbs. and was served to crowds at the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In 2012, Little Debbie Mini Muffins were on the scene! Blueberry, Chocolate Chip and Mini Brownies were all added to the sweetness line-up.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWISS ROLLS!
Little Debbie celebrated the 50th birthday of Swiss Rolls in style with alpenhorn players, sharing memories and, of course, the chocolatey-coated goodness of an American classic: Swiss Rolls!
PEANUT BUTTER CREME PIES
Ever crave a homemade peanut butter cookie like grandma made? These delightful treats have been curing that sweet tooth since 2014 and are found in Big Packs today!
NI HAO, CHINA!
Little Debbie begins selling to three cities in China with special granola bar flavors like Oats & Honey and Chocolate Chip.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALL YEAR LONG
New Little Debbie Birthday Cakes hit the shelves in March of 2018, and we’ve been celebrating big ever since!
TURTLE BROWNIES – SLOOOW GOOD!
Our first pan-baked brownie is added to the chocolatey mix, making this slooow good treat a keeper!
Happy Birthday All Year Long
Looking for a reason to party? Little Debbie Birthday Cakes are the perfect way to celebrate every day!
America's Sweetheart for 60 Years
2020 marked the 60th Anniversary for the Little Debbie brand.
Our most magical dessert yet, Little Debbie Unicorn Cakes hit the shelves in spring 2020 keeping the unicorn craze alive and well!
With the celebration of the Little Debbie 60th Anniversary came many challenges. The year 2020 has looked different in many ways, but the bright smiles on the faces of our fans during a time of uncertainty is why we continue to bring you the delicious and quality products you know and love. Thank you for being a part of our lives!