10 Friendly Faces of Corporate Giants

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NEW YORK MainStreet -- What's the matter, big corporate behemoth? Upset because the local/organic crowd doesn't like you?

Well cheer up, because you can always buy your way back into their good graces. Ask fans of Seattle's Best Coffee, many of whom still prefer it to Starbucks despite the fact Starbucks(SBUX) bought its Seattle neighbor nearly a decade ago. The same holds true for Leinenkugel drinkers, who'll still visit the Leinie Lodge in Chippewa Falls, Wis., instead of visiting the Miller caves in Milwaukee even though SABMiller bought Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing close to 25 years ago.

There are a bunch of other earthy, mom-and-pop brands serving as fronts for far bigger companies these days. The following 10 are just the most well-hidden examples:

Friendly brand face: Burt's Bees
Looming corporate masters: Clorox(CLX)

Burt Shavitz's bees helped produce the all-natural honey-based health care products that grew into Burt's Bees, but his lover/business partner Roxanne Quimby grew those products into a $43.5 million business by 2002 after buying Burt out in 1999. The next year, Quimby sold 80% of the company to a private equity firm, which then sold to Clorox for $925 million in 2007. Those "all-natural" products are now made by the same folks who produce Pine-Sol and Liquid-Plumr.

Friendly brand face: The Body Shop
Looming corporate masters: L'Oreal

Anita Roddick prided herself and her cosmetics chain on the use of all-natural ingredients, a commitment to social activism and fair trade and adamant opposition to animal testing. That stance became somewhat shakier in 2006, when Roddick sold the Body Shop to L'Oreal for more than $1 billion. Roddick's personal share was estimated at $211 million, but she died in 2007 before L'Oreal began paying for animal testing in China this year.

Friendly brand face: Naked Juice
Looming corporate masters: Pepsico(PEP)

Naked Juice may have been all-natural and earthy when it was founded in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1983, but getting bought out by a private equity firm in 2000 and by Pepsico for $450 million in 2006 made Naked about as alternative as a bottle of Sierra Mist. Don't get all smug over there, Odwalla drinker: Your juice was sucked up by Coca-Cola(KO) for $181 million more than a decade ago.

Friendly brand face: Tom's Of Maine
Looming corporate masters: Colgate-Palmolive(CL)

Tom and Kate Chappell started their company in Kennebunk, Maine, in 1970 with $5,000 in seed money and made toothpaste, soap and deodorant without animal testing or animal product. Sure, they sold an 84% share in the company to Colgate-Palmolive for $100 million in 2006 for an 84% stake in the company, but they kept the remaining 16% just to ensure the products and formulas would remain intact.