Inspiration comes from strange places. Jimmy Dean found it stuck between his teeth.
Jimmy Dean had done pretty well for himself in show business. He had beaten the Today Show in the ratings with his own morning show on CBS. He starred in a network variety show (which introduced the Muppets to the world) on ABC . He had number one hit records with Big Bad John and PT109. He was a successful concert performer and Las Vegas headliner. He appeared in movies, including the role of a villain in a James Bond movie. He was a favorite on the television talk show circuit with his wry wit and storytelling ability.
But, he didn't trust show business. He never felt secure, mostly owing to his childhood memories of being dirt poor, and was always on the lookout for other opportunities.
He found his answer one morning when he was in a "li' ol' diner" eating breakfast. Something got stuck in his teeth. He reached his thumb and forefinger into his mouth and extracted a big piece of gristle.
"Good God Lord," he thought. "There must be room for a quality sausage, somewhere."
Jimmy Dean had grown up in Plainview, Texas. He bought a hog processing plant in his hometown, put his brother in to run it and began making his own sausage. He named it Jimmy Dean Sausage.
He became the spokesman for the company. In his television commercials, he sold himself as well as the high quality of the sausage.
The sausage was a big hit and became the number one breakfast sausage on the market. It became a $500 million a year business.
Jimmy Dean sold the company to Sara Lee in 1984 for a huge stack of stock.
He didn't have to worry any longer about the fickleness of show business or having to head back to Plainview for a life of manual labor.
Jimmy Dean passed away at his home June 13th, 2010 at the age of 81.