February 12, 2013
Long before her cookbooks became a staple in our kitchens and before we connected via email, Twitter and Facebook, Betty Crocker came into homes across the United States on the radio. Debuting in 1924 with “The Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air” and the “Betty Crocker Home Service Program,” Betty kept homemakers company where they needed it the most—at home—with friendly, woman-to-woman chats.
Considering the personal, “girl talk” vibe of Betty’s programming, it’s no surprise that her attention oftentimes turned to matters of the heart. From interviews with “attractive bachelors” on the type of girls they’d consider marrying to a weekly segment featuring “Recipes for Romance,” the food-love connection became a common theme throughout Betty’s radio run.
Finding in Betty a wise and sympathetic friend, listeners often wrote into the Home Services Department at Betty’s parent company to express appreciation for her support and products and to seek relationship advice. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I combed the archives for some sweet letters to share with you. Here are a few, all from the early 1930s, guaranteed to make you go “awwww.”
“Please don’t think I am crazy for writing this: but after listening to your program while making eight pumpkin pies, I came to the conclusion that you did not think it was possible for a woman to be happy and jolly married to a garage man coming in at any hour. Well I wish to inform you that it is possible; because I am married to just such a man. I am 34 years of age. We have three boys as healthy as you can find, besides I look after my sister’s two orphaned children and board my father and brother. Am I happy? Why I’m the happiest woman there is, because laughing and joking is ¾ of my life. Of course I don’t have much time to go out much, but I love to have company in. And when my husband comes home it’s to rest; he said when he locks his garage at night he leaves his troubles there and I don’t bother him with any troubles. I am closing saying life is just what we make it: by not expecting what is impossible.” —Mrs. C. E. McComber, Willimantic, Connecticut
“I have enjoyed the ideas of the men concerning their wives. I don’t know just what my husband would say about me. However it should be something nice, for I always try to feed him well. You know the old saying about the way to a man’s heart. I have used your recipes on him ever since I married him, and that is now nine years ago. He is a model husband so I guess they have agreed with him.” —Mrs. Rolla E. Duruyu, Clark, South Dakota
“I look forward to your cooking school as much as my husband looks forward to the hunting season, a man who lives every day in the year ‘til the season comes. Now my husband and son eat almost everything I prepare. In my last sack of Gold Medal Flour there was a recipe for cinnamon coffee cake and I made it for dinner and I’ll tell you it was delicious. When I make something good, my husband says, ‘I bet Betty Crocker told you how to make that.’” —Mrs. Lillean Dennick, Ruffsdale, Pennsylvania
“I always listen to your broadcasts whenever I can and I’ve been so very interested to hear about those contended husbands. My husband thinks I am a wonderful cook and every time he gets to raving about it, I tell, ‘Betty Crocker,’ ought to hear him, for he is the most contented husband I ever heard about. We have been married 45 years last September and we are more in love with each other all the time.” —Mrs. J.W. Rich, Houston, Texas
Our relationships look a lot different now 80-odd years later, but I still believe making (or baking) something delicious to share with your sweetie says “I love you” like nothing else can. Do you believe in the food-love bond? If so, I’d love to hear how you’re showing your love this Valentine’s Day.
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