For over seven decades Betty Crocker has been a trusted friend in every family’s kitchen. If you shopped for flour, cake mixes, brownie mixes, and icing; her name would be one that stood out as one of the most recognized. A milling company in the 1920’s created the persona that would be known to all as Betty. The Washburn Crosby Company did a promotion in 1921 for Gold Medal Flour. If buyers of their products were able to complete a jigsaw puzzle of a flour mill they would get a pincushion fashioned in the shape of a sack of flour. To their surprise, not only did thousands of entries come in, but also many inquiries about baking issues the consumers were having.
Sam Gabe, the company’s advertising manager felt that they needed a woman to answer all of the inquiries. He knew that the questions that were being asked came from their female consumers; having a woman to assist them would give them an advantage over others in the market place. Using the last name of William G. Crocker, a retired executive from the company and an unassuming but friendly first name, Betty; her fictitious persona was born to answer the call of the inquiries.
Many women in the company gave samples of their handwriting until one was found that had nice penmanship. She was chosen to write the signature for Betty Crocker. This signature is still being used today. As Betty became more popular, she began doing cooking programs on the radio. Over 13 actresses were used across the country as the voice of Betty. The show had a successful run of 24 years. As her popularity continued to rise, the company realized they needed a face to go with the persona they created. Neysa McMein was hired in to paint the portrait that would symbolize Betty. She used a blend of facial attributes from many women working in the Home Service Department of the company. This portrait was used for over 20 years. Betty was thought to be a real woman by millions of women and voted the second most popular woman in the world after Mrs. Roosevelt.
Through the years there have been many changes to the image of Betty. A softer version with a smile was painted using characteristics from the original image in 1955. In 1965 and 1968, her look was updated again. As the feminist movement began to grow in the 70’s, Betty Crocker was updated again to appear more businesslike. The company realized the mistake of this version in the 80’s and softened her look once more. They believed the best portrayal of Betty would be one that any woman could identify with.
Even though she has evolved over the years, many things have remained constant. Her dark hair, blue eyes and the red dress have never changed. To honor her seventy fifth birthday; a new rendering of her portrait was done where Betty looks as if she barely aged. Cooks throughout the US have come to trust this brand; as she is the face that represents value and great quality in the cooking industry.