Who is Betty Crocker?

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Who is Betty Crocker?
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Who is Betty Crocker?

Many of us have grown up with Betty Crocker, the iconic homemaker behind the General Mills brand. Flour-milling company Washburn Crosby Company (a predecessor of General Mills) formed the cooking and baking personality as a way to provide personalized answers to customers' questions. Read on to discover the evolution of Betty Crocker throughout the years.

Image Credit: General Mills

1921

After running a Gold Medal flour promotion where customers completed a jigsaw puzzle to receive a flour sack-shaped pin cushion, the Washburn Crosby Company received tons of responses - about 30,000 completed puzzles accompanied by tons of questions about baking.

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The all-male advertising department answered customer questions by consulting with the women of the Gold Medal Home Service staff. William Gale, who headed the department, didn't feel comfortable signing his letters because he believed women would rather hear household advice from other women. Thus, the idea of Betty was conceived.

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Betty Crocker was named after William G. Crocker, a retired director of the company, as a way to honor him. The first name Betty was simply selected for sounding friendly. Through a company contest, a female employee won the opportunity to pen Betty's signature in her letters, which is still used today.

Image Credit: General Mills

1924

The Washburn Crosby Company started daytime radio's first cooking show, later called "Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air". Thirteen regional radio stations across the nation had actresses portray Betty's voice. Three years later, the cooking show transitioned into a national broadcast.

Image Credit: Getty Images

1936

New York artist Neysa McMein created this portrait of Betty Crocker in 1936. It was a composite image of several of the company's Home Service Department members.

Image Credit: General Mills

1937

The first portrait of Betty Crocker made its first appearance on the packaging of Softasilk cake flour in 1937.

Image Credit: Flickr/alsis35

1945

Fortune magazine named Betty Crocker the second best known woman in America (Eleanor Roosevelt came in first). Betty's nickname was the First Lady of Food.

Image Credit: Getty Images

1950

Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book was published in 1950 and has since sold millions of copies. You could find hundreds of pages of recipes and practical tips within its covers. Eleven editions later, the latest book titled Betty Crocker's Cookbook is available today.

Image Credit: Flickr/Otto Nassar

1955

Norman Rockwell and five other well-known artists painted new portraits of Betty Crocker in 1955, which were then reviewed by about 1,600 women across the nation. This smiling portrait by illustrator Hilda Taylor made the cut.

Image Credit: General Mills

1965

Magazine illustrator Joe Bowler gave Betty Crocker a makeover in 1965 that fit well with the times. She looked fashionable with her trendy hairstyle and layered pearl necklace.

Image Credit: General Mills

1969

Betty Crocker sported a minimal make-up look in her 1969 portrait updated by Bowler.

Image Credit: General Mills

1972

Minnesota artist Jerome Ryan painted Betty Crocker’s 1972 portrait. With her high collar neckline, smart brooch and some serious hair, this Betty means business.

Image Credit: General Mills

1980

Betty Crocker’s 1980 portrait shows a cropped coif with soft waves and a simpler outfit. The new look was elegant yet accessible.

Image Credit: General Mills

1986

Betty Crocker’s new look in 1986 was created by New York artist Harriet Perchik and was meant to portray a woman capable both in the boardroom and in the dining room.

Image Credit: General Mills

1996

In celebration of Betty Crocker’s 75th anniversary, 75 women were selected from across the country who embodied the spirit of Betty. These women and the 1986 portrait formed the inspiration for artist John Stuart Ingle to create this 1996 portrait.

Image Credit: General Mills

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Since 1921, Betty Crocker has been around to dole out cooking and baking tips and house-keeping advice. Many of us have grown up with this cultural icon that embodies the ideal homemaker.

With her smart red outfit and perfectly coifed hair, Betty Crocker is easily one of the most recognizable icons among food brands. However, you might be surprised to find that she isn't a real person or created in any particular person's likeness. Created by the Washburn Crosby Company as a personal way to respond to their customers' questions, Betty began as signature, became the voice of a popular radio cooking show and finally appeared as a visage with her first portrait painted in 1936. Since then, Betty has undergone several makeovers to keep up with changing times.

Check out the slideshow above to discover the evolution of Betty Crocker throughout the years.

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