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The Betty Crocker Kitchens

Created January 10, 2017
The Betty Crocker Kitchens

History of the Betty Crocker Kitchens

Since 1921, the Betty Crocker name has symbolized General Mill’s continuing tradition of service to consumers. Although Betty was never a real person, her name and identity have become synonymous with helpfulness, trustworthiness and quality. It all began when a promotion for Gold Medal Flour offered consumers a pin cushion resembling a flour sack if they correctly completed a jigsaw puzzle of a milling scene. The Washburn Crosby Company, a forerunner of General Mills, received thousands of responses and a flood of questions about baking.

"Betty Crocker" was created as a signature to personalize the responses to those inquiries. The surname Crocker was chosen to honor a popular, recently retired director the company, William G. Crocker. Betty was chosen simply as a friendly sounding name. Female employees were invited to submit sample Betty Crocker signatures; the one judged most distinctive is the basis for the one still in use today.

During this same time period, the company expanded its commitment to consumer service and product quality by sponsoring cooking schools across the country. In fact, the company launched a radio show in 1924. Later named "The Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air" the broadcast became one of the longest running shows in radio history. The growth of consumer demand for information necessitated the hiring of 21 home economists. They were employed to carefully test and demonstrate the company’s gold medal-winning flour. This was the beginning of the Betty Crocker Kitchens.

First housed in the Washburn Crosby A mill, the kitchens were full of then-modern facilities such as running water and gas stoves. The kitchens formally changed their name to “Betty Crocker Kitchens” in 1946. When General Mills moved its headquarters to Golden Valley, MN in 1958, seven new kitchens were built, each one representing a different area of the United States: Arizona Desert, California, Cape Cod, Chinatown, Hawaiian, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Williamsburg.

With the re-model of the kitchens in 2003, the entirely new facility features more than 7,000 square feet of kitchen space with 19 fully equipped individual kitchens designed for over 50,000 recipe tests each year.

Facts and features: 
  • The entirely new facility features more than 7,000 square feet of kitchen space with 19 fully equipped individual kitchens designed for over 50,000 recipe tests each year.
  • Ergonomically designed workspace to accommodate the various needs of the Betty Crocker Kitchens staff.
  • More than 1,500 linear feet of cabinets and storage rooms, including a walk-in pantry in which to store dry foods. 
  • America’s largest corporate cookbook library, complete with 1,260 feet of high-density rolling book shelves for easy access
  • Eighteen tons of granite countertops.
  • A uniquely designed conference room with a complete kitchen station in which to hold presentations and cooking demonstrations
  • A specially designed media kitchen that offers flexibility for a variety of broadcast uses and that features GE Profile appliances, Thomasville cabinetry and Corian countertops, all provided by The Home Depot.
  • Makore, an African cherry veneer, on appliances and cabinetry, creates a warm and inviting atmosphere throughout the kitchens.
  • A 375-square-foot, walk-in refrigerator and a 222-square-foot, walk-in freezer.
  • Located at General Mills world headquarters, the space features a glass-encased observation balcony to view the Betty Crocker Kitchens staff at work.
  • Atrium windows reaching two stories high to create an open and roomy atmosphere.
  • The existing five state-of-the-art photography studios that handle the company’s extensive food photography bring the total number of General Mills cooking facilities to 24.