A History of Betty Crocker – The Home Cook Who Never Was
Posted on March 24, 2012
Did you know, one of our most beloved kitchen personalities, Betty Crocker, was a woman who never existed? The name was first developed 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. There are also a number of Betty Crocker-branded products, such as hand mixers, which support General Mills product line of foodstuffs.
- In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Betty Crocker was used by General Mills to symbolize the ideal female American cook. In that time, she became one of the most well-known figures in American culture.
- The first “portrait” of Betty Crocker appeared in 1936. It has subtly changed over the years, but has always accommodated General Mills’ cultural perception of the American homemaker: knowledgeable and caring.
- In 1945, Fortune magazine named Betty Crocker the second most popular woman in America; first lady Eleanor Roosevelt was named first.
- 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. Hawley continued to portray Betty Crocker until 1964.
She also appeared in the CBS network’s first color commercial, in which she baked a “mystery fruit cake”.
- In 1950, the Betty Crocker Cookbook was published. It was written by Agnes White Tizard, a nutritionist.
- By 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.
- In 2006, it was announced that the Betty Crocker Catalog went out of business, but her image remains on BettyCrocker.com.
- 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, and they never showed the character from the shoulders down.