The fates of real-life advertising icons

Mental Floss found out what happened to ten famous advertising characters: the Gerber Baby's a mystery novelist, the Dutch Boy grew up to be a political cartoonist, and Little Debbie grew up to be a NASCAR fan and a 7th Day Adventist.

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4. Bob’s Big Boy

Founder Bob Wian’s inspiration for the Big Boy icon came from Richard Woodruff. “Woodruff was a rotund young boy who had a curious pompadour hairstyle and would help Wian out with chores in exchange for free food,” recalled an article in Nation’s Restaurant News. “The plump Woodruff, nicknamed ‘Fat Boy’ by the hourly gentry at Bob’s, often showed up for work in a pair of baggy jeans giving the little endomorph an almost cartoonish appearance. By chance a Hollywood artist and a regular at the restaurant happened to sketch the boy on a napkin. Since that afternoon the image of the chubby lad in checkered coveralls with a hamburger in one hand has become one of the most highly recognized and lasting trademarks in the foodservice industry.”

Woodruff, who grew to be a massive 6-foot-6, 300-pound local legend in Glendale, California, passed away in 1986. He was 54.

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