History of the Original Sun-Maid Girl

current 2009 sun-maid raisin girl looWe’ve all seen the Logo on the boxes of raisins from the sun-maid raisin company. The adorable logo with the painting of a lovely brunette on it is both colorful, and catchy. But did you know how the logo was started? Do you know who the model was?? Not many people do.


Lorraine Collett Peterson was born in 1892 and passed away in 1983 at age 91. And she was the original Sun-Maid poster girl.


The company hired a young woman named Lorraine Collett Peterson to model for a painting that would be

used as a corporate logo and trademark.


Like most California stories, Lorraine was spotted by a Leroy Payne who was one of the managing executives for the Griffin and Skelley Fruit Packing Company in Fresno where Lorraine’s father and brother worked. At the time, Lorraine was working at the Panama Pacific Exposition which took place in San Francisco. The company that was being promoted was none other than the California Associated Raisin company as it was called at that time. The Exposition was actually a large fair that celebrated the rebirth of San Francisco after the deadly fire and earthquake of 1906.

Lorraine and many of the young women she worked with at the fair wore costumes of that period that were made of long, white dresses topped with a blue bonnet and kerchief. The women were tasked with handing out boxes of raisins and flyers to visitors as promotional items. They, including Lorraine, even tossed raisins out of an airplane over the crowd.


Lorraine was home taking a break from working at the exposition going on at that time. She was seen by Mr. Payne after having just washed her hair, After her mother had just set her and combed hair in long dark ringlets, Lorraine put on  her mother’s red sunbonnet to keep her hair in place. She was spotted by Leroy Payne in the backyard of her family’s home with the red bonnet on her head. That is all it took for Miss Lorraine to go from a $15 a week wage earner at the fruit packing company to being immortalized on the well-known package of the raisins we

buy today.

Eventually, Lorraine’s portrait was commissioned by the company by then San Francisco Artist Fanny Scafford who painted Lorraine in watercolor, That image which was used as the start of the well-known corporate logo. Her watercolor portrait was actually trademarked for the company and it began to appear on packaging as early as 1916.

Over time, the image evolved and was updated to reflect the change in times, culture and fashion. One of the earlier images shows the bonnet that Collett wore as a red, but the background was blue as were the original bonnets. The logo/image continued to be reworked from 1960 up until 1974.


Eventually, as the logo changed, so did the box color and was once again updated. The  most recent update was in 2009 to reflect current tastes. The logo you see today on the boxes of raisins is of the newest design.


Raisin growers in the valley had long thought that there were financial, marketing and promotional benefits in dried raisins. They thought the name idea of Sun Made raisins appropriate for dried grapes. But with the addition of Lorraine Collett as their raisin spokeswoman in costume, the Sun-Made raisins because Sun-Maid. Though a play on words, it was considered a perfect fit.


Aggressive marketing was put in place soon after the creation of the logo all through the 1920’s. By the end of the decade, raisin consumption in the United States had hit a new all-time high and had tripled in sales. Lorraine Collett was the new and enduring face of Sun-Maid.


Lorraine continued to make appearances here and there showcasing the ‘face’ of the Sun-Maid raisin girl and in 1976,

was a guest on the Mike Douglas show where she entertained a new generation of raisin lovers with the history of the Sun-Maid Raisin girl.


Lorraine was eventually presented with a commemorative plaque by the Sun-Maid company, which she later in turn gifted the original portrait of her and her original bonnet to the Sun Maid Raisin Growers. (My Notes…I’ve heard that she was paid $1700 at the time but am not sure of the veracity of it, so won’t state it as a fact here. I would imagine it was possible, though I don't know for sure).


Four years after her death in 1983 at age 91, the Sun-Maid company, on their 75th anniversary as a company, in turn donated Lorraine's bonnet to the Smithsonian in 1987, but I believe they kept the original painting which by now must be quite valuable.



Miss Collett continued to be quite busy. After her model ling stint at Sun-Maid, she did some acting work. Only in California! She landed a small part in a movie called The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, but then returned to her home in Fresno pursuing other interests.

Our Sun-Maid Raisin Bonnets 

She turned to other ventures in which she ran a restaurant for 2 years. She also ran a cattle ranch, and eventually converted an old hospital into a nursing home. To some extent, she remained connected to the Sun-Maid Raisin company until she passed away.

Personal Note: I found it interesting that Lorraine's start was similar to many of our 'celebrities' today….someone found them waiting tables or working as a barista or even a grocery clerk. Luck often seems to hinge on these little things I think.

RegardleSun Maid Raisin Red Bonnet modeled for Rawhide Gifts and Galleryss, Miss Lorraine is part of our culture and American heritage now and I for one, have always been fascinated with the SunMaid raisin girl. As a child, I adored her  and the pic on my raisin box in my lunch always made her seem 'real' to me.

And American cooking and baking would certainly not be the what it is today if we didn't have raisins to work with. I can't imagine an oatmeal cookie or a pumpkin cake without them.

I was given a huge box of chcolate covered raisins for a gift and while it took me awhile to get through them all, I"m ashamed to say that I didn't share even one. The chocolate covered ones are my favorite but I recently discovered the strawberry yogurt covered ones along with the traditional vanilla flavored one.

You might like to try these as your soon to be favorite snack. In our small grocery, these are not availble so thank goodness for Amazon. Enjoy!


Sun Maid Raisin Chocolate Covered Raisins
See On Amazon

See On Amazon
Sun Maid Raisin Vanilla covered yogurt raisins

See On Amazon



  6 comments for “History of the Original Sun-Maid Girl

  1. Dennis Coulter
    December 25, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Interesting history. on Sun-Maid. We had been raised being told our great grandfather Wills (who lived in Los Gatos, CA at the time) came up with the idea for the Sunmade raisin logo. Not sure how we got our wires crossed. I guess I’ll have to be the bearer of bad news that it wasn’t him…😢

    But, still love the raisins and logo nonetheless!


    Dennis Coulter 


    • MJ
      December 26, 2018 at 11:16 am



      I would love to hear more about your own history and how and what you were told about the logo. I think, often, there is a kernel of truth in rumors, legends and myths. Hope you have the time to tell me yours!


  2. March 23, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Hello Madeleine,

    I read your interesting page about the Sun-Maid girl. I’d like to comment on the first image that’s starting at the top…that image is of me. Supposedly the package image was cleaned up to change the Sun rays and the maiden who posed for centering….this for the 70’s version…however the image still is of me from the 1960’s painting, which was published around 1970.

    You can read more on Wikipedia Sun-Maid

    Thank You,


    • MJ
      March 23, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Dear Delia,

         That is so wonderful!!! It’s exciting to me to ‘meet’ you 🙂 I love almost any kind of history and to actually have contact with someone involved from the company and connected to these photos is just fantastic.

      I did get a few other emails/letters/comments,and was surprised to hear from people who said that they had been told by their grandparents or other family members that there family members were also somehow connected to the Sunmaid raisin beginnings. Unfortunately, though I would have liked to find out more about those roots and get additional background information, no one has ever replied to my emails.

      I’m so very glad you posted.

      Best regards,

      Madeleine Jacobs

  3. Bob Bard
    May 25, 2020 at 8:48 am

    While sprinkling some Sun Maid raisins on my fruit and yogurt breakfast today, the question of who that pretty lady on the package was popped in my mind and so off to the Internet I ran. Your very informative and well written piece was just what I was looking for–thanks.

    • MJ
      May 26, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      Dear Bob,
      What a nice comment to read when I opened it up! I’m glad that article was interesting and helpful to you and I thank you so much for stopping by to let me know.
      Just an FYI; I wrote and researched it because, I too, was curious 🙂
      Madeleine Jacobs

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