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Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage)

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Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage) Cover

ISBN13: 9780816650187
ISBN10: 0816650187
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An informative and entertaining social history of a culinary icon.

While Betty Crocker is often associated with 1950s happy homemaking, she originally belonged to a different generation. Created in 1921 as a "friend to homemakers" for the Washburn Crosby Company (a forerunner to General Mills) in Minneapolis, her purpose was to answer consumer mail. "She" was actually the women of the Home Service Department who signed Betty's name. Eventually, Betty Crocker's local radio show on WCCO expanded, and audiences around the nation tuned her in, tried her money-saving recipes, and wrote Betty nearly 5,000 fan letters per day. In Finding Betty Crocker, Susan Marks offers an utterly unique look at the culinary and marketing history of America's First Lady of Food.

Review:

"'Your talks... have given me hope,' wrote one listener to the Betty Crocker radio program during the Depression, and according to Marks's largely chronological 'biography' (there was no real Betty Crocker), it was human connections like this one that made Crocker one of the most successful marketing tools ever. Filled with treasures from the General Mills archive — including letters sent to Crocker during WWII, reprints of famous recipes and advertisements, and portraits updated through the years — Marks's book introduces readers to the people who breathed life into Crocker's image as the happiest of homemakers. There's Samuel Gale, her inventor, and Florence Lindeberg, who provided her trademark signature in 1921. Other important figures include Neysa McMein, who painted the first Crocker portrait in 1936, and Adelaide Hawley, who played Crocker on television in the 1950s. Marks, who created a documentary film on Crocker, devotes a chapter to the Betty Crocker Kitchens and chronicles the products that Crocker's folksy persona sold to the world, like Bisquick and various cake mixes. In another section, she touches upon — albeit too briefly — Crocker's role in 'the fundamental shift in American diets toward... factory-processed convenience foods.' Light on analysis but abundant with anecdotes, this is a solid basic history for casual culinary, marketing and American historians. Photos, illus. Agent, Dawn Frederick. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Spiced with a small selection of recipes from Betty's files and graced with some wonderful illustrations, this is popular history at its best: both informative and entertaining." Library Journal

Review:

"Marks excels in putting her subject in context, and alongside her historical account, she places numerous letters from women who wrote to Betty to ask questions or inform her about their lives. Like a Betty Crocker recipe: goes down easy." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Susan Marks offers an entertaining and informative history of this cultural icon, including her original role as the public face of the Washburn Crosby Company home service department, her career as a local radio personality, and her life as a happy, frugal homemaker." Minnesota Magazine

Review:

"Before Mr. Peanut and the Energizer Bunny, before Charmin's Mr. Whipple and the Maytag Repair Man, before the Pillsbury Doughboy and the Aflac duck, there was Betty Crocker....Necessity was her mother. Dad, according to Marks's engaging social history, was one Samuel Gale, the advertising manager for Washburn Crosby (now General Mills)." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"The heartfelt letters Marks has collected, written with good manners by real people asking for real help and receiving it from the General Mills staff representing Ms. Crocker, are extraordinary and moving — a testament to trust well placed." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Susan Marks delves into the colorful history and powerful influence on American eating habits of this fictitious character." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"As sweet and compelling as a just-frosted cupcake." Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Review:

"Marks tells a compelling story of the creation of Betty Crocker and her role as the 'first lady of food.' Enhancing the story is a host of photographs, advertisements and such popular Betty Crocker recipes as Snickerdoodles, Service Cake and Victory Icing, and Chiffon." Hutchinson Leader

Review:

"An amazing look at an enduring culinary and marketing history figure, illustrated with vintage black-and-white photographs." Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Susan Marks is a writer/producer/director with her own production company, Lazy Susan Productions.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Anne Foster, September 12, 2008 (view all comments by Anne Foster)
This book was not only informative, but entertaining. It has created good conversation among both men and women .. for Betty Crocker has been around "forever". It is interesting how marketing is so competitive among the food products. Plus, the changes society has "required" in not only food habits, but also cooking equipment.
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(5 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780816650187
Author:
Marks, Susan
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Corporate & Business History - General
Subject:
HIS036090
Subject:
Cookery
Subject:
Crocker, Betty
Subject:
Corporate History
Subject:
Business-History and Biography
Edition Number:
1
Edition Description:
1
Series:
Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Books
Publication Date:
20070431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
76 halftones
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 0.7 in

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Related Subjects

Business » History and Biographies
Business » Marketing
Cooking and Food » Reference and Etiquette » Historical Food and Cooking
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage) New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.25 In Stock
Product details 288 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816650187 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Your talks... have given me hope,' wrote one listener to the Betty Crocker radio program during the Depression, and according to Marks's largely chronological 'biography' (there was no real Betty Crocker), it was human connections like this one that made Crocker one of the most successful marketing tools ever. Filled with treasures from the General Mills archive — including letters sent to Crocker during WWII, reprints of famous recipes and advertisements, and portraits updated through the years — Marks's book introduces readers to the people who breathed life into Crocker's image as the happiest of homemakers. There's Samuel Gale, her inventor, and Florence Lindeberg, who provided her trademark signature in 1921. Other important figures include Neysa McMein, who painted the first Crocker portrait in 1936, and Adelaide Hawley, who played Crocker on television in the 1950s. Marks, who created a documentary film on Crocker, devotes a chapter to the Betty Crocker Kitchens and chronicles the products that Crocker's folksy persona sold to the world, like Bisquick and various cake mixes. In another section, she touches upon — albeit too briefly — Crocker's role in 'the fundamental shift in American diets toward... factory-processed convenience foods.' Light on analysis but abundant with anecdotes, this is a solid basic history for casual culinary, marketing and American historians. Photos, illus. Agent, Dawn Frederick. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Spiced with a small selection of recipes from Betty's files and graced with some wonderful illustrations, this is popular history at its best: both informative and entertaining."
"Review" by , "Marks excels in putting her subject in context, and alongside her historical account, she places numerous letters from women who wrote to Betty to ask questions or inform her about their lives. Like a Betty Crocker recipe: goes down easy."
"Review" by , "Susan Marks offers an entertaining and informative history of this cultural icon, including her original role as the public face of the Washburn Crosby Company home service department, her career as a local radio personality, and her life as a happy, frugal homemaker."
"Review" by , "Before Mr. Peanut and the Energizer Bunny, before Charmin's Mr. Whipple and the Maytag Repair Man, before the Pillsbury Doughboy and the Aflac duck, there was Betty Crocker....Necessity was her mother. Dad, according to Marks's engaging social history, was one Samuel Gale, the advertising manager for Washburn Crosby (now General Mills)."
"Review" by , "The heartfelt letters Marks has collected, written with good manners by real people asking for real help and receiving it from the General Mills staff representing Ms. Crocker, are extraordinary and moving — a testament to trust well placed."
"Review" by , "Susan Marks delves into the colorful history and powerful influence on American eating habits of this fictitious character."
"Review" by , "As sweet and compelling as a just-frosted cupcake."
"Review" by , "Marks tells a compelling story of the creation of Betty Crocker and her role as the 'first lady of food.' Enhancing the story is a host of photographs, advertisements and such popular Betty Crocker recipes as Snickerdoodles, Service Cake and Victory Icing, and Chiffon."
"Review" by , "An amazing look at an enduring culinary and marketing history figure, illustrated with vintage black-and-white photographs."
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