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Duncan Hines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Duncan Hines
Born(1880-03-26)March 26, 1880
DiedMarch 15, 1959(1959-03-15) (aged 78)
Bowling Green, Kentucky, U.S.
Occupation(s)Businessman, writer, food critic
  • Florence Chaffin Hines
    (m. 1905; died 1938)
  • Emelie Tolman
    (m. 1939; div. 1945)
  • Clara Wright Nahm
    (m. 1947)

Duncan Hines (March 26, 1880 – March 15, 1959) was an American author and food critic known for his restaurant ratings for travelers. He is best known today for the brand of food products that bears his name.

Early life, family and education


Hines was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the son of a former Confederate soldier. His mother died when he was four years old, and he was raised by his grandmother.[1]

Hines attended Bowling Green Business University, which later merged with what is now Western Kentucky University.[2] He worked in the American West for Wells Fargo and other companies before settling in Chicago, Illinois.[1]

Writing career


Hines worked as a traveling salesman for a Chicago printer, and he had eaten many meals on the road across the United States by 1935 when he was 55. At this time, there was no American interstate highway system and only a few chain restaurants, except in large populated areas. Therefore, travelers depended on local restaurants. Hines and his wife Florence began assembling a list for friends of several hundred good restaurants around the country.

Hines and his wife Florence began assembling a list for friends of several hundred good restaurants around the country. The list became popular and he began selling the paperback book Adventures in Good Eating (1935), highlighting restaurants and their featured dishes that Hines had personally enjoyed in locations across the United States.[3][4]

One such listing in the 1939 edition read:

Corbin, KY.   Sanders Court and Café
41 — Jct. with 25, 25 E. ½ Mi. N. of Corbin. Open all year except Xmas.
A very good place to stop en route to Cumberland Falls and the Great Smokies. Continuous 24-hour service. Sizzling steaks, fried chicken, country ham, hot biscuits. L. 50¢ to $1; D., 60¢ to $1

The book proved so successful that Hines added another which recommended lodging.[5][6] In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Hines wrote the newspaper food column Adventures in Good Eating at Home, which appeared in newspapers across the US three times a week on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The column featured restaurant recipes adapted for home cooks that he had collected during his nationwide travels.[7][8]

Entrepreneurial career


In 1952, Duncan Hines introduced Duncan Hines bread through the Durkee's Bakery Company of Homer, New York. Principals Michael C. Antil Sr., Albert Durkee, and Lena Durkee were the bakery proprietors. This was Duncan Hines' first foray into baked goods.

By 1953, Hines sold the right to use his name and the title of his book to Roy H. Park to form Hines-Park Foods, which licensed the name to a number of food-related businesses.[3][4] The cake mix license was sold to Nebraska Consolidated Mills in Omaha, Nebraska, which developed and sold the first Duncan Hines cake mixes.

In 1957, Nebraska Consolidated Mills sold the cake mix business to the U.S. consumer products company Procter & Gamble. The company expanded the business to the national market and added a series of related products.

Also in 1957, Hines appeared as a guest challenger on the TV panel show To Tell the Truth.

Hines died of lung cancer at his home in Bowling Green on March 15, 1959, at the age of 78.[9] He was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Bowling Green, at the same series of Hines family plots as Thomas Hines.


Duncan Hines logo

The Duncan Hines brand is now owned by Conagra Brands, the current name for Nebraska Consolidated Mills, which was the original owner of the brand. Conagra reacquired the brand through its acquisition, in 2018, of Pinnacle Foods which bought it from Procter & Gamble in 1997.

Hines is widely honored in his hometown of Bowling Green, and a portion of U.S. Route 31W north of the city was named the Duncan Hines Highway after his death.[10] A museum exhibit at Western Kentucky University's Kentucky Museum in Bowling Green showcases Duncan Hines.[11]


  • Hines, Duncan (1935). Adventures in Good Eating. Chicago: Adventures in Good Eating, Inc.
  • Hines, Duncan (1938). Lodging for a Night. Chicago: Adventures in Good Eating, Inc. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  • Hines, Duncan (1939). Adventures in Good Cooking (Famous Recipes) and the Art of Carving in the home. Bowling Green: Adventures in Good Eating, Inc. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  • Hines, Duncan (1955). The Duncan Hines Barbecue Cook Book. Hemp and Company.
  • Hines, Duncan (1955). The Duncan Hines Dessert Book. Pocket Books.
  • Hines, Duncan (1955). Duncan Hines' Food Odyssey. Thomas Y. Crowell Company.
  • Hines, Duncan (2014). Hatchett, Louis (ed.). The Duncan Hines Dessert Book. Foreword by Jane Stern and Michael Stern (Reprint ed.). The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0865548107.

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b L.V. Anderson (May 9, 2014). "Duncan Hines Was a Real Guy". Slate. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  2. ^ "Mr. Duncan Hines". Hall of Distinguished Alumni. Western Kentucky University. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  3. ^ a b About Us, Duncan Hines website
  4. ^ a b Duncan Hines, The Man Behind The Cake Mix, visitbgky.com
  5. ^ Duncan Hines (1940). "Lodging for a night" (3rd ed.). Adventures in Good Eating Inc, Bowling Green, Ky, Telephone 1219. (archive.org)
  6. ^ "A collection of postcards from various historic roadside motels "recommended by Duncan Hines"".
  7. ^ "Duncan Hines recommends..."[permanent dead link] (announcement of Duncan Hines upcoming food column), Milwaukee Sentinel, January 28, 1948.
  8. ^ "Duncan Hines Adventures in Good Eating at Home – Chocolate Cake Supreme"[permanent dead link], Milwaukee Sentinel, October 24, 1948.
  9. ^ "Gourmet Hines Succumbs at 78", Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas), March 16, 1959.
  10. ^ Duncan Hines Scenic Byway, visitbgky.com
  11. ^ Museum Exhibit

Further reading