Synopses & Reviews
IN 1945, andlt;Iandgt;FORTUNE MAGAZINEandlt;/Iandgt; named Betty Crocker the second most popular American woman, right behind Eleanor Roosevelt, and dubbed Betty America's First Lady of Food. Not bad for a gal who never actually existed. andlt;BRandgt; "Born" in 1921 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to proud corporate parents, Betty Crocker has grown, over eight decades, into one of the most successful branding campaigns the world has ever known. Now, at long last, she has her own biography. andlt;Iandgt;Finding Betty Crockerandlt;/Iandgt; draws on six years of research plus an unprecedented look into the General Mills archives to reveal how a fictitious spokesperson was enthusiastically welcomed into kitchens and shopping carts across the nation. andlt;BRandgt; The Washburn Crosby Company (one of the forerunners to General Mills) chose the cheery all-American "Betty" as a first name and paired it with Crocker, after William Crocker, a well-loved company director. Betty was to be the newest member of the Home Service Department, where she would be a "friend" to consumers in search of advice on baking -- and, in an unexpected twist, their personal lives. andlt;BRandgt; Soon Betty Crocker had her own national radio show, which, during the Great Depression and World War II, broadcast money-saving recipes, rationing tips, and messages of hope. Over 700,000 women joined Betty's wartime Home Legion program, while more than one million women -- and men -- registered for the andlt;Iandgt;Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Airandlt;/Iandgt; during its twenty-seven-year run. andlt;BRandgt; At the height of Betty Crocker's popularity in the 1940s, she received as many as four to five thousand letters daily, care of General Mills. When her first full-scale cookbook, andlt;Iandgt;Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book,andlt;/Iandgt; or "Big Red," as it is affectionately known, was released in 1950, first-year sales rivaled those of the Bible. Today, over two hundred products bear her name, along with thousands of recipe booklets and cookbooks, an interactive website, and a newspaper column. andlt;BRandgt; What is it about Betty? In answering the question of why everyone was buying what she was selling, author Susan Marks offers an entertaining, charming, and utterly unique look -- through words and images -- at an American icon situated between profound symbolism and classic kitchen kitsch.
"'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.)
The history-making "life" of America's most beloved culinary icon is told forthe first time in a revealing, fully illustrated book.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Susan Marks'sandlt;/Bandgt; interest in Betty Crocker began during her stint as a tour guide for the Minnesota Historical Society, then evolved into a master's thesis, doc-u-mentary film project, and, ultimately, this book. Currently, she writes and produces videos for corporations as well as for nonprofits and the arts.
Table of Contents
andlt;Bandgt;Contentsandlt;/Bandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Introductionandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Bandgt;Oneandlt;/Bandgt; The Making of an American Mythandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Bandgt;Twoandlt;/Bandgt; Betty Goes Hollywoodandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Bandgt;Threeandlt;/Bandgt; On Betty's Watchandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Bandgt;Fourandlt;/Bandgt; Bake Someone Happyandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Bandgt;Fiveandlt;/Bandgt; Just Add Water!andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Bandgt;Sixandlt;/Bandgt; Kitchens of the Worldandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Bandgt;Sevenandlt;/Bandgt; Strangely Familiarandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Notesandlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Acknowledgments