I didn't choose Betty. She chose me.

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Collecting Munsingwear Stories!

It's official, I'm writing another history book, Don't Say Underwear, Say Munsingwear! It will launch next year.

If you can't wait, check out Historic Photos of Minnesota. You will find a bit about Munsingwear's unique history.

I'm collecting oral histories, photos and stories from former Munsingwear employees. Please send them my way.

And, as usual, I'm collecting stories from former Betty Crocker scholarship winners.

If you are looking for my other book, Finding Betty Crocker, ask your local bookseller to order or order from Amazon.com.

Thank you for your continued interest in my projects!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Empty Cake Mix Box in the Trash! Oh My!

Funny how plans change. When I got back from the store, I realized that I didn't have any canned beets for Red Velvet coloring in the cupboard, and I wasn't about to go back to the store. (And just where did that big old can of beets go? Food drive during the holidays?) Anyway, while searching for the can of beets, I came across a box of Betty Crocker cake mix. And really, who am I to deny a sign from the universe? So I made a boxed cake and it was quite good and like the box says: it was super moist.

As I threw the box away, I was reminded of something from Finding Betty Crocker. When cake mixes were rising in popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, many people were not convinced they would head down such a slippery slope of non-scratch foods. (Cake, in particular, was super charged with notions of what it meant to be a real woman.) While others were unafraid, but didn't want anyone else to know about it. So, they would bake a boxed cake mix for entertaining and pass it off as a "from scratch" cake. Nosy busy-bodies would then look for an opportunity to riffle through the trash to see if they could spot an empty cake mix box.

And then what? Would delicate social dynamics be undermined, causing alliances to shift? Would neighborhood gossip spread like wildfire? Would anyone be ostracized? Outcast? Did bridge groups become divided along a fault line of cake mix users and non-cake mix users?

I've only witnessed one such situation, at luncheon in 2008, where I was a guest speaker. A group of well-off baby boomers and I, were talking about the historical impact of the cake mix controversies (and believe me, there are several) and one woman mentioned that she wouldn't bother baking a cake from scratch because cake mixes have improved so much. Many at the table agreed. And then she added that she felt the same way about ready-to-spread frosting. Another woman gasped and said, "Cake is one thing. But I cannot believe you don't make your own frosting. Honestly!"

For the record, I made my own frosting for this cake. But mostly because I didn't have any in the cupboard.