Who is Betty Crocker?

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American families have trusted the cooking advice of Betty Crocker for nearly a century. Her influence and reach across generations and types of media would make Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and Rachael Ray combined seem like small potatoes—if only she were an actual person.

In 1921, Betty Crocker’s name and image were created to personalize responses to a growing number of cooking and baking advice requests directed at the Washburn-Crosby Company, a flour milling company and a predecessor to General Mills. Her first name was chosen for its friendly appeal, her signature was selected from submissions made by female staff (and still used today), and her last name taken from the beloved former director of the company, William G. Crocker.

A few years later, the Washburn-Crosby Company purchased a local radio station and began broadcasting “Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air”. As the radio cooking show expanded across the country, a different actress would give Betty her voice. The U.S. Office of War Information requested that Betty Crocker broadcast a radio program called “Our Nation’s Rations” for four months to help homemakers make the most of rationed foods. Around seven million copies of “Your Share,” a Betty Crocker wartime booklet, were distributed at this time. She expanded her influence further with another Betty Crocker publication, Thru Highway to Good Nutrition, which won national recognition by the American Red Cross for outstanding service in the national interest. Since 1950, more than 250 Betty Crocker cookbooks have been published.

By 1996, Betty became a modernized woman—her image is now a computerized composite of 75 women who met the characteristics of the ideal Betty Crocker.