Company Origin Stories


Lillian McMeekin, Reporter

Have you ever pondered the origin of some of your favorite companies? Wondered about Charles Entertainment Cheese’s parents? Questioned who Lulu is? Read these (completely true and not at all fabricated) origin stories of America’s most popular consumer companies!
  1. Little Debbie
In 1867, a man named Samuel Leeson had a daughter named Deborah. In the height of a recession and a widespread plague in their small European country, Samuel had one goal: to make Deborah happy. After Deborah’s mother died, everything Samuel did was to make Deborah happy. He took her skating on a nearby pond, taught her to read, gave her piano lessons, and often pulled her out of school to take her to town. One day, Deborah fell gravely ill. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. A week later, Deborah tragically passed. Samuel fell into a deep depression and did everything he could to honor Deborah’s memory, including taking up baking as a hobby, since Deborah always did have a sweet tooth. The first thing Samuel made was a small cake, which he decorated with frosting and flowers from their garden. When he finished decorating the cake, Samuel took a step back and realized he had made a cake with an uncanny likeness to his late daughter. To further honor Deborah’s memory, Samuel quit his job and decided to focus his time on making mini Deborah’s to sell to the townspeople. As time passed, these sweet treats transformed into what we know today as Little Debbie Snack Cakes. 
  1. LuluLemon
In 1987, a man fell in love with a woman named Lulu Lewis. He never met her or spoke to her, but they went to the same coffee shop every morning and he would sit and watch her drink her latte and eat her lemon bar before they both went off to face the workday. One day, Lulu came to the coffee shop with a friend and the man listened in on their conversation. In passing, Lulu mentioned that she needed some new workout gear but she couldn’t find anything she liked. Inspiration struck the man and he spent the next few months slaving over a sewing machine and polyester. Finally, after almost a year of hard work, the man returned to the coffee shop to find Lulu. He excitedly presented his work to her, anxious to see her reaction. Unfortunately, Lulu promptly called the cops on the man. Luckily, however, the man was able to evade the police and successfully started up his hit workout gear company, LuluLemon. 
  1. Old Navy
In 1963, a girl named Carmen found a pair of jeans wedged between some patterned skirts and khaki shorts at her local thrift store. They were exactly what she had been looking for. Carmen couldn’t believe her eyes. She bought them and wore them to school the next day, excited to show her three best friends, Bridget, Tibby, and Lena. During study hall, Lena asked to try on the pants, and Carmen obliged. Though they wore different sizes, the pants fit Lena perfectly. Each friend took turns trying on the jeans, and to their astonishment, each girl fit into the pants perfectly. The friend group was so excited about their discovery. They decided they would each take turns wearing the pants. That summer, the pants traveled with each girl everywhere they went. The pants saw the sights of Greece with Lena, worked at a family store with Tibby, followed Carmen to South Carolina, and played soccer with Bridget in California. Unfortunately, at the end of the summer, the four girls had a huge fight and lost touch. The jeans were left on the side of the road, a symbol of what was left behind in their friendship. Many, many years later, another group of friends was walking down an abandoned road and spotted the dark blue fabric buried beneath the dirt. The incredible fit of the jeans inspired the girls to start a small clothing company out of their garage. They called the company Old Navy, which was their nickname for the jeans they found on the side of a small town road.
  1. Chuck E. Cheese
In the 17th century, a small boy named Gideon was left in his home alone one day while his parents went to fetch water from the well in town. Gideon had never been left alone before, but his sister Margaret left home last month to get married, and Gideon was now left to find his own entertainment. None of his wooden blocks were keeping him entertained for long enough. He couldn’t figure out how to get the chickens on their farm to play with him, either. Gideon was waiting for his dear parents to get back from town when he saw a small field mouse scurrying across the dewy grass. Bored and eager for some fun, Gideon began chasing the mouse. It took a while, but Gideon eventually caught the mouse. Gideon was so excited about his new friend. He decided to call this new rodent friend Charles. Gideon’s parents took pity on the lonely boy and allowed him to keep Charles. Sadly, Gideon soon passed away from scarlet fever. Gideon’s parents, heartbroken, decided to continue Gideon’s legacy and start a toy company in order to ensure no child ever went bored again. They named the company after Gideon’s beloved mouse and called it Charles’ Entertainment. The company was passed on through generations and has slowly turned into what we know as Chuck E. Cheese.