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Betty Crocker is a cultural icon, as well as brand name and trademark of American Fortune 500 corporation General Mills. The name was first developed by the Washburn Crosby Company in 1921 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.
Marjorie Husted was the creator of Betty Crocker. She was a home economist and businesswoman under whose supervision the image of Betty Crocker became an icon for General Mills. In 1921, Washburn Crosby merged with five or more other milling companies to form General Mills.
In 1924, Betty 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 show, and Agnes White was selected to portray Betty Crocker. The show proved popular, and eventually was carried nationally on NBC Radio, with Agnes as Betty. Over the next two decades, Agnes would anonymously portray Betty Crocker on the air and at cooking schools.
In 1929, Betty Crocker coupons were introduced. Inserted in bags of flour, they could be used to reduce the cost of Oneida Limited 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 big savings on fine kitchen and home accessories in our catalog".
From 1930, General Mills issued softbound recipe books, including in 1933 Betty Crocker's 101 Delicious Bisquick Creations, As Made and Served by Well-Known Gracious Hostesses, Famous Chefs, Distinguished Epicures and Smart Luminaries of Movieland.
1941-1945: Betty Crocker Cook Book of All-Purpose Baking. (published as an aid to war-time considerations in cooking).
In 1949, Granger Crocker sent a post card to J. W. Schucak about Betty being crowned "best cook" in her town.
In 1949, actress Adelaide Hawley Cumming became Betty Crocker for many years. She appeared for several years on the Burns and Allen Show, and even had her own TV show. She also appeared in the CBS 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 first appeared in 1936. It subtly changed over the years, but always accommodated General Mills' cultural perception of the American homemaker: knowledgeable and caring. The current image of Betty Crocker, according to the corporation, is actually a combination of 75 real-life women of diverse backgrounds and ages. These portraits were always painted, with no real person ever having posed as a model.
In 2005, the 10th edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook was published, as well as a Spanish/English bilingual book that collects some of the more common recipes for Spanish-speaking readers looking to cook American-style food. There are also a number of Betty Crocker-branded products, such as hand mixers, which support General Mills product line of foodstuffs.
In 2006, the Betty Crocker Catalog 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; BettyCrockerStore.com will be part of the BettyCrocker.com web site in conjunction with Cooking.com.
- Betty Crocker Cookbook
- Betty Crocker baking mixes
- Betty Crocker canned frosting
- Bowl Appetit shelf-stable entrees
- Betty Crocker Soda Licious (discontinued)
- Cake and dessert decorating products
- Fruit by the Foot
- Fruit Gushers
- Hamburger Helper and related products
- Potato Buds instant mashed potatoes
- Suddenly Salad mixes
- 'Shake and make' pancake mix
- Warm Delights microwavable desserts
In Popular Culture
- The webcomic Homestuck makes many references to Betty Crocker and casts the fictional head of the company as an alien and secondary antagonist.
- In Pleasantville (film) the character of Betty is transformed from a Betty Crocker type of character into a Betty Friedan type of character, representative of changing traditional gender roles in America and modern feminism, as part of vast cultural and social change in America during the quarter century following World War II.
- "Agnes White Tizard: Betty Crocker". Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Jarvits, Janet. "Betty Crocker Edition History". General Mills.
- "Accomplished Alpha Delta Pi Members in Education and Science". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- "The Betty Crocker Portraits". General Mills. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- Betty Crocker product list, General Mills
- Dunning, John. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8
- Marks, Susan. (2007) Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-5018-7 (popular book.)
- Crocker, Betty. Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book. New York: McGraw–Hill and General Mills, 1950 (first edition of the "Big Red" cookbook.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Hussie, Andrew Homestuck. http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=002879, 2009 (First Significant Page from Homestuck featuring Betty Crocker.)
- Betty Crocker official website
- Betty Crocker official store website
- Betty Crocker products
- Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book edition history: changing portrait-style images of Betty Crocker since 1936
- Who was Betty Crocker, GMU
- Marks, Susan, Finding Betty Crocker, archived from the original on 2008-03-08 (dead link)
- Fish Hawley Cumming, Adelaide, Biography, I love the Fingerlakes.