When a bouncing baby boy arrived to the Pancake family of Portland, Ore., on March 29, 1947, his parents named him Sperry.
The uncommon last name aside. His unusual first name also happened to be the same as the then-popular Sperry Company flour products.
E.O. Boyer, Sperry division president in 1947, visited Portland that September to present the 4-month-old baby with a $5,000 trust fund certificate courtesy of General Mills, manufacturer of Sperry pancake mix.
(Sperry receives his $3,300 check.)
Mr. and Mrs. General Washington Pancake, Sperry’s parents, were all smiles, knowing their little “flapjack” was now assured a college education.
The certificate actually represented a cash investment by General Mills of $3,300, which was estimated to have a maturity value of more than $5,000 when young Sperry went to college in 1965. It was suggested that the child may later travel and appear for the company, but that was not contingent on the trust.
An avalanche of publicity and Sperry promotion accompanied the formal presentation of the certificate in Circuit Court Judge A.C. Dickson’s chambers in Portland.
When asked about the naming the little blond baby, Mrs. Pancake said that it came “like a flash. But I surely never thought that it would cause such a commotion.”
In one of his first “photo opps,” Sperry tried to eat up the check received from General Mills when they gave it to him in gratitude for his being named after a Sperry division product. And although Judge Dickson, who presided over the presentation, didn’t get into the baby’s solo shots, his gavel did as you see in the photo above.
“Will you nickname him Flapjack?” inquired Dickson following the ceremony.
To that, baby Sperry just remarked, “Goo!”
Young Sperry joined siblings Georgia (8) and General Allen (3-1/2), his mother, Madeleine, and his father, Papa Pancake, who worked as a steel worker.
No further information could be found on Sperry Pancake later in his life, except that he graduated from Arcadia High School, Arcadia, Calif., in 1965.
Maybe he changed his name?
If you have any information, we may do an update.
Let us know!
Editor’s note: Also in 1947, General Mills constructed a new Sperry flour mill and grain elevator in Los Angeles, making the $2 million mill, including its other onsite developments, one of the nation’s leading milling centers. Founded in 1852, the Sperry Flour Company joined General Mills in 1929. Sperry brands included: Drifted Snow flour, a prominent flour brand on the West Coast; La Bandera; Harina; Gold Seal flour; and La Piña flour. Today, La Piña is still a popular brand in the Southwest, although General Mills sold the La Piña brand when it acquired Pillsbury in 2001.