Betty Crocker
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Betty Crocker is a brand and fictional character used in advertising campaigns for food and recipes. The character was originally created by the Washburn-Crosby Company in 1921 following a contest in the ''
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''. In 1954,
General Mills General Mills, Inc., is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded processed consumer foods sold through retail stores. Founded on the banks of the Mississippi River at Saint Anthony Falls in Minneapolis Minneap ...
introduced the red spoon logo with her signature, placing it on Gold Medal flour,
Bisquick Bisquick is a pre-mixed baking mix sold by General Mills under its Betty Crocker brand, consisting of flour, shortening, salt, sugar and baking powder (a leavening agent). History According to General Mills, Bisquick was invented in 1930 after ...
, and cake-mix packages. A portrait of Betty Crocker, first commissioned in 1936 and revised several times since, appears on printed advertisements and product packaging. The character was developed in 1920 as a way to give a personalized response to consumer product questions. The name Betty was selected because it was viewed as a cheery, all-American name. It was paired with the last name Crocker, in honor of William Crocker, a Washburn Crosby Company director. The character's image has been updated seven times since her creation, reflecting changes in fashions and hairstyles. Described as an American
cultural icon A cultural icon is a person or an cultural artifact, artifact that is identified by members of a culture as representative of that culture. The process of identification is subjective, and "icons" are judged by the extent to which they can be see ...
, the image of Betty Crocker has endured several generations, adapting to changing social, political and economic currents. Apart from advertising campaigns in printed, broadcast and digital media, she received a number of cultural references in film, literature, music and comics.


Creation

Betty Crocker was created in 1921 by Washburn-Crosby and advertiser Bruce Barton. Crocker was based off a sous-chef from Franklin College — where Barton attended school — that made the delicious, if somewhat dry, baked goods for the cafeteria. Under Marjorie Husted's supervision, the image of Betty Crocker became the "Zeus" of General Mills. In 1928, Washburn Crosby merged with other milling companies to form General Mills. In 1924, Crocker acquired a voice with the debut of "The Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air" on one station in Minneapolis. It was the country's first radio cooking program. Blanche Ingersoll followed by Husted were selected to portray Betty Crocker. The show proved popular, and eventually was carried nationally on NBC Radio, with Agnes White as Betty. Over the next three decades, the women would anonymously portray Betty Crocker on the air and at cooking schools. In 1929, Betty Crocker
coupon In marketing, a coupon is a ticket or document that can be redeemed for a financial discounts and allowances, discount or rebate (marketing), rebate when purchasing a product (business), product. Customarily, coupons are issued by manufacturers ...
s were introduced. Inserted in bags of flour, they could be used to reduce the cost of
Oneida Limited Oneida Limited () is an American manufacturer and seller of tableware Tableware is any dish or dishware used for setting a table, serving food, and dining. It includes cutlery, List of glassware, glassware, serving dishes, and other items ...
flatware. By 1932, this scheme had become so popular that General Mills began to offer an entire set of flatware; the pattern was called "Friendship" (later renamed "Medality"). In 1937, the coupons were printed on the outside of packages, copy on which told purchasers to "save and redeem for huge savings on fine kitchen and home accessories in our catalog".


Cookbooks

From 1930, General Mills issued softbound recipe books, including, in 1933, ''Betty Crocker's 101 Delicious
Bisquick Bisquick is a pre-mixed baking mix sold by General Mills under its Betty Crocker brand, consisting of flour, shortening, salt, sugar and baking powder (a leavening agent). History According to General Mills, Bisquick was invented in 1930 after ...
Creations, as Made and Served by Well-Known Gracious Hostesses, Famous Chefs, Distinguished Epicures and Smart Luminaries of Movieland.'' The ''Betty Crocker Cook Book of All-Purpose Baking'' was published as an aid to wartime considerations in cooking. In 1950, the ''Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook'' was published. It was written by nutritionist Agnes White Tizard. In 2005, the 10th edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook was published, as well as a
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
/ English bilingual book that collects some of the more common recipes for Spanish-speaking readers looking to cook American-style food. An 11th edition, in ring-binder format, appeared in 2011. At least 17 other Betty Crocker recipe collections were also in print in 2015. Recipes and collections are also available digitally.


Media

''Betty Crocker'' programs first appeared on radio on local stations in 1924. The first network ''Betty Crocker'' broadcast was on NBC in 1926. The show remained on network radio until 1953; most of the time the program was on NBC or
CBS CBS Broadcasting Inc., commonly shortened to CBS, the abbreviation of its former legal name Columbia Broadcasting System, is an American commercial broadcast television Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication m ...
, but it was on ABC from 1947 to 1953. Betty Crocker was portrayed by several actresses, including Marjorie Husted on radio for twenty years, and Adelaide Hawley Cumming on television between 1949 and 1964. In 1949, the actress Adelaide Hawley Cumming became Betty Crocker for many years. She appeared for several years on '' The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show'', and even had her own TV show, '' Betty Crocker Star Matinee''. She also appeared in the
CBS CBS Broadcasting Inc., commonly shortened to CBS, the abbreviation of its former legal name Columbia Broadcasting System, is an American commercial broadcast television Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication m ...
network's first color commercial, in which she baked a "mystery fruit cake". Hawley continued to portray Betty Crocker until 1964. A portrait of Betty Crocker was first commissioned in 1936, a "motherly image" that "blended the features of several Home Service Department members" that was painted by Neysa McMein. It subtly changed over the years, but always accommodated General Mills' cultural perception of the American homemaker — knowledgeable and caring. The 1996 portrait of Betty Crocker, according to General Mills, was partially inspired by a "computerized composite" of "75 women of diverse backgrounds and ages." These portraits were always painted, with no real person ever having posed as a model. In 1945, '' Fortune'' magazine named Betty Crocker the second most popular woman in America;
Eleanor Roosevelt Anna Eleanor Roosevelt () (October 11, 1884November 7, 1962) was an American political figure, diplomat, and activist. She was the first lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt's four t ...
was named first. In the same year, ''Fortune'' "outed" Betty Crocker as a fictitious creation, calling her a "fake" and a "fraud."


Legacy

The
Minneapolis Minneapolis () is the largest city in Minnesota, United States, and the county seat of Hennepin County. The city is abundant in water, with list of lakes in Minneapolis, thirteen lakes, wetlands, the Mississippi River, creeks and waterfalls. ...
suburb of Golden Valley, Minnesota, where General Mills is headquartered, has a street named Betty Crocker Drive. There are a number of Betty Crocker–branded products, including plastic food containers and measuring cups, and a line of small appliances such as popcorn poppers and sandwich makers. In 2006, the Betty Crocker catalog operation went out of business with all of its inventory on sale. Points were redeemable until December 15, 2006. A new online store was launched in April 2007 but discontinued sometime thereafter.


Products

* Bac-Os (discontinued in 2016) * Betty Crocker Brownie bar * '' Betty Crocker Cookbook'' * Betty Crocker baking mixes *
Bisquick Bisquick is a pre-mixed baking mix sold by General Mills under its Betty Crocker brand, consisting of flour, shortening, salt, sugar and baking powder (a leavening agent). History According to General Mills, Bisquick was invented in 1930 after ...
* Fruit Roll-Ups * Betty Crocker canned frosting * Bowl Appetit shelf-stable entrees * Betty Crocker Soda Licious (discontinued) * Cake and dessert decorating products * Dunk-a-roos * Fruit by the Foot * Fruit GushersBetty Crocker product list
General Mills
* Hamburger Helper and related products * Potato Buds instant
mashed potatoes Mashed potato or mashed potatoes ( American and Canadian English Canadian English (CanE, CE, en-CA) encompasses the Variety (linguistics), varieties of English language, English native to Canada. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, ...
* Suddenly Salad mixes * "Shake and make" pancake mix * Warm Delights microwavable desserts


See also

* Betty Bossi * Betty Crocker Kitchens


Citations


General sources

* * Crocker, Betty. ''Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book''. New York: McGraw-Hill and General Mills, 1950 (first edition of the "Big Red" cookbook). * Dunning, John. ''On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio.'' Oxford University Press, 1998. . * Gray, James. ''Business without Boundary: The Story of General Mills''. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1954 (scholarly history of General Mills, including the invention of Crocker). * Marks, Susan (2007). ''Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food'' University of Minnesota Press. . (Popular book.) * Shapiro, Laura. "Is She Real?" In ''Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America'', 169–209. New York: Viking, 2004. (Chapter on Betty Crocker in a popular book with footnotes.)


External links

* {{Authority control American culture Baking mixes Cookbooks Crocker, Betty Crocker Crocker Crocker, Betty Crocker, Betty Food product brands General Mills brands Crocker, Betty Crocker, Betty Mass media franchises introduced in 1921 Crocker