Taste of Home
With hundreds of cookbooks, not to mention grocery store aisles full of products, Betty Crocker is undeniably one of the biggest names in the food industry. But while you probably have at least one Betty Crocker product in your pantry, how much do you know about the brand?
Before tearing into that box of Betty Crocker’s infamous cake mix, here are nine awesome facts you need to know about America’s “First Lady of Food.”
Fact No. 1: Betty Crocker wasn’t a real person.
Back in 1921, Gold Medal flour ran a promotion offering shoppers a pincushion shaped like a sack of flour if they could solve a jigsaw puzzle. When Gold Medal’s parent company, Washburn Crosby Co., received thousands of responses, along with questions about baking, they decided to develop a warm (albeit fictitious) personality to represent the brand. They came up with Betty Crocker, and the rest is history.
Fact No. 2: Her last name was chosen to honor a former employee.
What’s in a name? If you ask Washburn Crosby, a lot. Betty’s surname was selected to pay tribute to William G. Crocker, a recently retired director of the company. As for Betty, the advertising folks liked this name for its cheerful, friendly quality.
Fact No. 3: Betty Crocker was on the radio.
As if the baking legacy were not enough, Betty Crocker also used to be on the air. Washburn Crosby bought a radio station in 1924 and launched the Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air, where listeners could tune in for helpful kitchen tips from Betty Crocker (well, an actress who played Betty Crocker). Not only did NBC eventually pick up the show and air it nationwide, it was one of the longest-running radio programs in U.S. history.
Fact No. 4: Betty Crocker’s first portrait isn’t of one woman, but many.
So if Betty Crocker isn’t a real person, who’s the woman in the picture? When painter Neysa McMein created the first Betty Crocker portrait in 1936, she created a composite, blending the features of the women who worked in the company’s home service department. Over the years, the Betty Crocker image has been reimagined several times to keep her looking contemporary.
Fact No. 5: The first Betty Crocker product was soup.
Betty Crocker is basically synonymous with delectably moist cake mix, but the brand launched packaged soups first, in 1941. It wasn’t until 1947 that Betty Crocker released its first cake mix. (The flavor? Ginger!)
Fact No. 6: Betty Crocker was once among the most recognized women in the U.S.
It seems strange that a woman who never actually existed would have so much clout, but it’s true. In 1945, Fortune named Betty Crocker one of the most recognizable women in the country, second only to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (hence Betty’s “First Lady of Food” nickname.)
Fact No. 7: The big red spoon wasn’t always Betty Crocker’s logo.
It’s difficult to imagine Betty Crocker without the company’s big red spoon logo, but it wasn’t always that way. In 1953, Betty Crocker’s iconic signature was enclosed in a red oval, but a few months later, the company decided they didn’t think the logo “popped,” and enlisted Lippincott & Margulies to create the now-famous spoon.
Fact No. 8: Betty Crocker supports the LGBT community.
In 2013, after marriage equality passed in Minnesota, Betty Crocker donated life-sized wedding cakes to the first three couples to tie the knot at Minneapolis City Hall. Awww! (The company also boasts a robust workplace equality program. Double awww!)
Fact No. 9: Yes, there’s still a Betty Crocker.
It’s been over 90 years since Betty Crocker was born, but she’s still alive and kickin’. Even today, customer service representatives use the Betty Crocker moniker to answer your burning cooking questions.
If learning about Betty Crocker has you craving a big slice of cake, you’re not alone—so here are 30 recipes worthy of Betty Crocker’s seal of approval.