The Real Reason Ree Drummond Is Called ‘The Pioneer Woman’

Food Network fans have known and loved Ree Drummond for years. She’s better known as The Pioneer Woman, and thanks to her hit program, viewers have gotten to see what life is like living on a ranch in Oklahoma. Not only do her fans love the food she cooks, but they also enjoy her stories of home life, family life, and of course, how she met her cowboy husband, Ladd. And thanks to her Food Network program, we’ve all gotten insight into what Ree’s life is really like.

Ree has a more interesting back story than many would initially suspect, too — and the reason she’s called “The Pioneer Woman” is particularly fascinating. Here’s how she got the name.

Ree wanted to stay in the city when she was in her college years

If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that Ree never imagined her adult life being anything like how it turned out. People notes she grew up in the small town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, which just an hour away from her current town of Pawhuska — and she always had big dreams of leaving. “I always thought, ‘There’s a big, huge world out there beyond this.’ When I was young, I wanted to be an actress. I had no idea what that meant, but I just thought it sounded fun,” she told the publication.

Once it was time for college, Ree put her plan into action and attended school at USC in Los Angeles. “I just wanted non-stop action when I was young. I just wanted to go, go, go,” she told People. And before she met her husband, she was even planning on moving out to Chicago — though of course, we know everything changed once Ladd entered the picture.

She moved out to the country to stay with her now-husband, Ladd

During her college years, Ree made a pitstop home that changed everything. Country Living notes she explained in The Pioneer Woman Magazine that she couldn’t wait to get back into the world of the big city while visiting Oklahoma. ” Based on my brief time at home, I knew that an urban environment was where I belonged,” she wrote. “I missed the anonymity of living in a city—the ability to run to the market without running into my third-grade teacher. I missed the nightlife, the culture, the shopping. I missed the restaurants.” Once she met Ladd in a smokey hometown bar, though, her plans to get back to the city were nearing their end, however.

After their initial meeting, Ladd didn’t contact Ree for months — but when they finally went on a date, Ree’s plans to move were out the window. “At the end of the evening, riding in a Ford F-250 diesel pickup with a cowboy, I knew there was nowhere else on earth I wanted to be,” she wrote. And while she admitted to always being “boy crazy,” she knew Ladd was the one for her. Just a few years later, they were married — and Ree agreed to Oklahoma living for good.

Her friends coined the term ‘Pioneer Woman’ for Ree

Ree calls herself an “accidental country girl” on her Food Network show all the time — and it turns out her friends never expected her to stay in the country, either. “I didn’t even know any cowboys growing up. When my friends heard that I was marrying a cattle rancher and moving to the country, they literally could not believe it,” she told People. And she also mentioned that it was her friends who originally came up with her iconic name. “They started calling me the Pioneer Woman as a joke.”

It turns out the joke’s on them, as “The Pioneer Woman” stuck and catapulted Ree to fame. She first attained notoriety through her award-winning blog, and we all know she now has her famous Food Network show. Also under her brand, the Drummonds own their restaurant and general store, The Mercantile, as well as The Boarding House, which is a boutique eight-room hotel.

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