Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food

coverFinding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food — By Susan Marks

There never was a real Betty Crocker. The wise and competent advisor to generations of American housewives was created in 1921 by the PR team promoting Gold Medal flour. She wasn’t the first fictional spokesperson for a domestic product, but she became the most well-known and the most loved. One reason for her rise to such heights of fame was the the fact that Gold Medal bought its own radio station, and in 1924, Betty Crocker became a radio star.

Housewives across the nation tuned in to learn about cooking and much more. When the Depression struck, Betty Crocker was there ideas for how to stretch limited budgets. When World War II came along, Betty was there to support women on the homefront, with recipes to minimize the use of rationed food, time-saving ideas for women who were doing war work outside the home, and suggestions for cookies and other goodies to send to the armed forces. In the fifties, Betty was introducing the use of modern packaged mixes. For a time, Betty was everywhere, even in Hollywood gathering recipes from the stars. In 1945, Fortune magazine named her one of the most famous women in America, second only to Eleanor Roosevelt!

This book is light and anecdotal, an easy read, but it provides an interesting look at some aspects of women’s lives and domestic history. The most engaging parts of the books are the excerpts from letters and from Betty Crocker’s advise and commentary.

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