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Finding Betty Crocker

The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food

2007
Author:

Susan Marks

Finding Betty Crocker

An entertaining and informative social history of a culinary icon

Created in 1921 as a “friend to homemakers” for the Washburn Crosby Company (a forerunner to General Mills) in Minneapolis, Betty Crocker's purpose was to answer consumer mail. “She” was actually the women of the Home Service Department who signed Betty's name. In Finding Betty Crocker, Susan Marks offers an utterly unique look at the culinary and marketing history of America's First Lady of Food.

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

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.

Finding Betty Crocker

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

Finding Betty Crocker

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

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

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

Minneapolis Star Tribune

As sweet and compelling as a just-frosted cupcake.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

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

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

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

Midwest Book Review