NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Dean followed two separate paths to celebrity. For the generations that came to television consciousness after 1970, Mr. Dean, who grew up on a farm in West Texas, was the face and the voice of an eponymous brand of breakfast sausage, a product of the Jimmy Dean Meat Company, which he started in 1969. In dozens of commercials that were broadcast for more than 30 years — Sara Lee bought the company in 1984 but kept Mr. Dean as a spokesman until 2003 — he represented the product as a wholesome family food, nutritious and delicious, as homey as a needlepoint epigram. “Sausage is a great deal like life,” he said in one ad, in which he touted the quality of the ingredients. “You get out of it about what you put into it.” The honest, homespun quality of Mr. Dean’s public personality was already well established, however, by the time he began selling sausages. He was a popular country singer who recorded his first song, “Bumming Around,” in 1953, and whose 1961 novelty number, “Big Bad John,” spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. MORE
All hell broke loose back in 2007 when Sara Lee reduced the size of the Jimmy Dean Sausage roll from 16 ounces to 12 but kept the price the same. This caller gives the customer complaint line an earful.