Dean founded the Jimmy Dean Sausage brand of breakfast sausage, which was originally called "Pure Pork Sausage." The Jimmy Dean Sausage company did well, in part due to Dean's own extemporized, good-humored commercials.
Dean sold the company to Sara Lee in 1984 for $80 million. He remained involved as the company spokesman after the takeover, though Sara Lee under the leadership of John Bryan immediately began phasing him out of management duties. By 2004, he was no longer acting as spokesman.