I didn't choose Betty. She chose me.

I didn't choose Betty. She chose me.
The Betty Crocker Kitchens 1940

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Betty Crocker rules in Minnesota

Her name has graced hundreds of familiar supermarket products and millions of cookbooks. Her likeness, captured over the course of seven instantly recognizable portraits, now hangs royal gallery-like in General Mills’ Golden Valley headquarters. At the peak of her fame, this radio and TV star was deluged with 4,000 letters a day and in 1945 was bested only by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Fortune magazine’s most-popular-woman-in-the-nation survey. Not bad for a fictitious corporate spokeswoman. She is, of course, Betty Crocker, Minnesota’s most enduring ambassador to the world and a friendly — and trusted — face to America’s home cooks for 94 years. “She’s a legend,” said Twin Cities native Susan Marks, author of “Finding Betty Crocker” (2005). “Nothing compares to her. There are some similarities between Betty and Martha Stewart, but the big differences are that there’s probably not a jury that would convict Betty of anything.”

Check out the whole article

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh Domestic Science no one appreciates you enough!

7th December 1964: From left to right, Susan Andrews, Christine Brain, Jennifer Paxton and Judy Evans, four pupils of the Clarendon School in South Oxhey, Hertfordshire display the Christmas cakes they have designed and created in their Domestic Science class

West High School domestic science class 1926 | Denver Public Library 

For my book Finding Betty Crocker I did a lot of research on the Domestic Science and Home Economics Movements and some days, I just feel so nostalgic for the good ol' days that I never actually experienced - save for a 6th grade home ec unit that strikes me as some sort of dream now.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Vintage cake Ads


It's a toss up if you ask me - kissin' cake sounds good, but so does Betty Crocker's Pineapple Festival Cake. Notice what color Betty ISN'T wearing?

Monday, January 20, 2014

History Day Requests about Betty Crocker

This is a repost since I'm still get so many History Day requests. (Again, always from parents doing the work for their children. Seriously, what is wrong with so many parents today? If you are one of the parents - or even grandparents - who are doing their child's History Day project, read on - I'm happy to enlighten you.)

I get so many History Day requests about Betty Crocker that if I responded to all of them, it would be my full-time job. (And certainly one without pay!)

So suffice to say, no I cannot and will not help you with your child's History Day project. I really wish I could, but it's probably better this way. Because, you see, I wrote an exhaustive book on the subject and you can buy it or check it out of your local library.

But that doesn't mean I can't help you with something a bit more important...

Years ago, when I was still helping parents (because actual History Day students never contacted me, it was always the parents doing the work), they would claim to have read my book, but then all their questions showed me that they hadn't read the book at all.

So here's my advice to all you History Day Parents:

1) Pick a more unique topic than Betty Crocker. Because Betty is an example used by History Day organizers, literally thousands upon thousands of students have done their project on Betty Crocker. Explain to your child that he/she can do better.

2) Your child should be doing the research and reading. Not you. You can point them in the right direction, but really, it's cheating when you are doing the vast majority of the work. Shame on you! And shame on me for helping dozens of parents before realizing this.

3) If your child's heart is set on Betty Crocker, there is nothing preventing him or her from contacting General Mills and asking them about their iconic brand. Why are people so afraid of corporations? I've met dozens of truly lovely people at General Mills. And guess what? Most of them are parents just like you, who want to see their children do well in school.

4) Be grateful to anyone who helps your child with their research. I can't tell you how many parents never thanked me for going the extra mile. This is also an important lesson to impart on your children.

5) Brainstorm with your child about unique approaches to doing research. When I wrote my book on Betty Crocker there was no book on her history. I had to piece it together from primary and secondary resources. I had to conduct my own research.  For example,  I literally conducted 100s of oral history interviews. This is an excellent lesson for a young student to learn. I wish someone had taught me this when I was their age.  It's extremely empowering. You look at the world differently when you realize you can conduct your own research, generate your own results, listen to people tell their stories and preserve them.

So there you have it - my tough love policy to History Day parents. Now pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start being a good role model for your children - one that doesn't cheat!