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The Story of Betty Crocker

Created October 5, 2021
Betty Crocker
The phrase, “Call me Betty Crocker,” isn’t something any of us throw around lightly. It’s deeply rooted in American culture. From music, books, film and television to even the inside of some of our favorite celebrities’ palatial pads, Betty Crocker is there. We’ve helped shape America’s homes, kitchens and tastes for a century. Sure, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen thanks to our "Bettys," AKA you all! So, let’s take a moment to collectively brush our shoulders off. The whisks we’ve taken over the years have all been worth it.
So how did we get to a place where Betty Crocker is a popular Halloween costume, casually mentioned in the media and a single red spoon can telegraph an icon? Well, grab some popcorn, and before you even ask, yes, we, of course, have recipes for that, and let’s dive into just who was Betty Crocker and who are we today at age of (if you can even believe it) 100!
History 2

Bake Way! Betty Crocker History

We got our start in 1921 — and thank you, we do look good for our age. Who could have guessed that a simple contest by The Washburn-Crosby Company would give birth to an icon? The contest called on home cooks to solve a jigsaw puzzle for the chance to win a pincushion in the shape of a bag of Gold Medal Flour (cute). Washburn, a flour-milling company and predecessor of General Mills, Inc., was surprised to find themselves suddenly inundated with questions from home cooks who used the competition as an opportunity to ask for expert baking advice.

But who could offer the public the spoonfuls of wisdom American cooks were so hungry for? Enter, Betty Crocker. Now, Betty was not a single person. The name was created as a way to personalize responses to questions, and if you guessed that the name has meaning behind it, you’re right. “Crocker” was chosen in honor of a popular company director, and "Betty" was selected because... well, she sounded friendly. We love a little history moment.

But there was one final element needed to bring Betty to life. The Washburn-Crosby Company invited their female employees to try their hand at a Betty Crocker signature. A distinctive winner was chosen and is still used today. Talk about an icon in iconography!

Gold Medal Flour

Whisking in Expertise

During this time, commitment to consumer service and product quality was expanding. So much so that the company started sponsoring cooking schools across the country and employing home economists to carefully test and demonstrate its gold-medal-winning flour. The demand for baking information continued to grow along with our staff. This was the start of the world-renowned Betty Crocker Kitchens.

To this day the make-up of our kitchens is comprised of the creative cooks, bakers and dietitians who make the recipes, answer your cooking questions and carry on the tradition of creating kitchen-tested recipes that reflect the ever-changing tastes of America. So when you receive a compliment over a Betty recipe you whip up, they’re the folks to silently thank for ensuring your recipe is, well, *chef’s kiss*.

Each year as the holidays approach and you start to explore what new recipes to try, maybe raise a spatula to people like Meredith Deeds and Maggie Lyon, two of our kitchen's latest legends. They are helping to make (or should we say bake) some of Betty Crocker's most recent festive dessert recipes possible. And, when you can’t stop thinking about our cookies and treats, they’re also the ones to blame!

History 3

Stir in Education

Along with kitchen-test goodness, educating makers, bakers and whisk takers has been at the core of Betty Crocker since 1924, when daytime radio’s first cooking show took off. That show? “Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air.” It would later expand to 13 regional stations and “Graduates” of the program, who completed reports and submitted them to "Betty" for grading, numbered 238 the first year and ranged in age from 16 to 82. Due to its immense popularity, the cooking school became a program on the fledgling NBC network and would bake the world a better place for 24 years.

We may not tune into the radio for cooking shows anymore but the spirit of Betty Crocker as our kind and worldly expert in the kitchen continues to this day; from classes to cookbooks to kid-friendly experiments in the BettyLab. If you're not familiar with BettyLab, it's a place where we inspire young makers to create, learn and innovate through STEM-based kitchen experiments. Science you can eat? What will Betty think of next!

Homemakers Creed

Raise a Spoon, for the First Lady of Food

Betty has been an icon through every pinnacle moment of American history. At the U.S. Office of War Information's request, Betty Crocker hosted a radio program called "Our Nation’s Rations." The program helped homemakers make the most of their rationed food, and almost seven million copies of Betty Crocker's wartime booklet, "Your Share," were distributed. Betty’s wartime efforts didn’t stop there and were recognized by the American Red Cross for outstanding service in the national interest.

From humble beginnings, through war, the great depression and a rapidly changing America, Betty was a bright and unstoppable force. So much so that in 1945, Fortune magazine named Betty Crocker as "the second best-known woman in America" following First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. This went on to earn Betty the title of the "First Lady of Food" (which still rings true to this day).

History 7

“Women Need a Champion”

That power sentence above? Well, that was proclaimed by Marjorie Child Husted, a home economist for General Mills who was the brain and voice of Betty Crocker throughout her formative decades. Husted recognized that women not only wanted, but deserved a bright, smart and inspiring woman they could relate to and turn to for guidance and inspiration. We'll cheers to that! While today Betty Crocker is a champion for not only women but all makers Betty’s origin story, led by the intelligence and creativity of people like Husted tracks the journey of women's increasing influence on American culture.

In the late 1940's Betty Crocker transformed into a fully-fledged television star! Between 1949 to 1964 actress Adelaide Hawley played Betty Crocker as one of history's only "living trademarks." Adelaide, in her role as Betty appeared in various programs on CBS and ABC, and the country watched on as she showed celebrities and icons of the day how to bake like a Betty.

Betty was also taking the radio by storm. The "Betty Crocker Search for the All-American Homemaker of Tomorrow" Competition was created and ran into the late 70s. High-school seniors competed for college scholarships and trips to the national awards ceremony based on their knowledge of cooking, baking and household management.

History 4

No Whisk, No Reward

As a trusted face on TV and voice on the radio, Betty was — and still is — known for consistent, easy and delicious recipes. And in the 40s and 50's the bakers and makers of America clamored for more! Their wish was Betty’s command, and in 1950 "Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book" was released. The book is remarkably still in print to this day, now titled simply "Betty Crocker Cookbook" otherwise known as the "Big Red." It has been a recognizable mainstay of American kitchens for generations.

Since its inception, recipe development has always taken place in the Betty Crocker Kitchens. In other words, that’s where the magic happens! Today Betty releases three to four new cookbooks each year, with an edition of the "Big Red," the signature Betty Crocker cookbook released every five or so years.

The success of Betty's many cookbooks paved the way for her cult-favorite monthly magazine. The first of which hit America’s supermarket shelves in the 1980s and is still going strong. These days Betty’s iconic recipes can be found in not only in cookbooks, and magazines but on our website and social media.

Betty’s reach didn't end in the United States! In the mid-1950s, she landed in Canada and swiftly moved across the globe. You can find Betty on shelves in The United Kingdom, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Australia and throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. We take each country and culture into account and adapt our recipes and products to fit a world of tastes and styles. No matter where you are, Betty’s got your back.

Every Betty Party, We’re 100!

We’ve done a lot in our time and as of October 21 2021, Betty Crocker is officially 100 years young.

Thank you for trusting us with your birthdays, celebrations of all shapes and sizes, comfort meal pick-me-ups and everything in between. It’s you, our Bettys, that we have to thank for the honor of turning a 100. There’s no one we’d rather celebrate it with.

Let’s raise a big, red spoon to the next 100 years!