Crocker - This fictional female spokesperson was created in 1921
by the Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis (later to be General Mills) to
answer a flood of questions about baking that resulted from their promotion of
Gold Medal Flour. Her character's last name was taken from the company's former
treasurer/director William G. Crocker; and her first name "Betty" was chosen for
its all-American friendly sound.
Betty Crocker represented the Gold Medal Home Service Staff, which became the General Mills Home Service Department when the
Washburn Crosby Company consolidated in 1928. In 1936, artist Neysa McMein blended the facial features of all the women in the company’s Home Service
Department to create the first official likeness of Betty Crocker.
From her debut on radio in 1924 (The Betty Crocker School of the Air,
1924-48) through her later appearances on television, Betty Crocker became one
of the most recognized female figures in America. According to one poll, Betty
was the second most famous woman in America after Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1950,
the best-selling "Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook" was published. It earned the nickname
In 1951, actress Adelaide Hawley portrayed Betty Crocker on television
beginning with the CBS network's first color commercial (on which she baked a
mystery fruit cake) and on THE BETTY CROCKER STAR MATINEE/ABC/1951-52.
In 1972, feminists from the the National Organization of Women filed a class
action suit against General Mills claiming that Betty Crocker promoted sexual
and racial discrimination by promoting the image of a woman as homemaker.
In the 1980s, General Mills updated their classic female housekeeper to
reflect a modern professional woman. Chicago reporter, Bob Green finding her new
image rather sexy went in search of a look-alike. He discovered Randy Morgan, a
39-year-old native of Whitewater, Wisconsin who worked as an assistant in an Art
Gallery. General Mills however, declared they had relied solely on the artist's
imagination for their trademark mascot as they have for all their portraits
TRIVIA NOTE: In 1943, The Quaker Oats
Company introduced Mary Alden, a fictitious version of Betty Crocker who offered
her recipe for her favorite Oatmeal Cookies to a war time public forced to
ration sugar and butter products. Her recipe used bacon drippings or shortening
and a minimal amount of sugar.
The former site of the Washburn Crosby Milling
Company is located at 701 South 1st Street in downtown Minneapolis along the
Mississippi River. Once the home of Betty Crocker Kitchen and WCCO radio,
General Mills closed the plant in 1965 when the company moved its headquarters
to Golden Valley. The riverfront milling complex is now a National Historic
Landmark. See also - "Aunt
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