August 15, 2005

More About Betty

I finished the book about Betty Crocker that I mentioned last week. And I was right. It was a quick, entertaining read.

I already knew some of the historical facts presented in the book, such as the events surrounding her introduction to the American public in 1921, the titles of the cookbooks and recipe pamphlets that have been published over the years, and how Betty and her products have changed with the trends throughout the life of the brand.

A good portion of two chapters contained information that was new, to me, at least.

I wasn't very familiar with the Betty Crocker radio programs. These programs, whose listening audience was the American homemaker, ran from 1924 until the mid-1950's, ending about the time I was born. The author gave me a good sense of the program formats and the resulting interaction between the listeners and the food company. The author provided enough dates and other details so that I can research them further in the future, should I desire.

I find it interesting that the home service radio programs of the past, designed to inform and entertain primarily female homemakers, have been replaced with the Food TV of the present. Today's food television is aimed at both genders, airs almost continuously around the clock, and they, too, provide both entertainment and educational information. One thing that remains constant within both mediums, however, is the underlying promotion of consumer consumption.

I also enjoyed the chapter regarding the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens. The test kitchens are where recipes and products are tested and re-tested before their release to the public. The author took me through the growth of the test kitchens, describing in detail their decorating themes that changed with the decades, how they were outfitted with the most modern appliances and gadgets, the moves the kitchens made from their early space to their current quarters that were a result of the General Mills and Pillsbury merger. I especially enjoyed learning about the Kamera Kitchen, where the food was photographed for recipe booklets, package labels and other advertising promotions.

The Betty Crocker Kitchens, once regularly open to the public, were a popular tourist destination for Minneapolis visitors. Due to the confidentiality of product research, General Mills closed the kitchens to the public in 1985. Although the Kitchens were opened to the public again in 2003, it's on a much more limited basis.

I'm kind of disappointed to think that I won't have the opportunity to personally visit those kitchens of yesterday. Any current glimpse I get of these famous kitchens is most likely to be in the form of a television program.

I also didn't know that Betty used to hang out in Hollywood. How the corporate offices managed that, since she wasn't actually a real person, was pretty interesting as well.


Post a Comment

<< Home