Although General Mills did not invent cake mix, Betty Crocker helped make it a household name and kitchen staple in the early 1950s.
The Pittsburgh-based molasses firm P. Duff and Sons developed the first cake mix in 1933 by blending dried molasses with dehydrated flour, sugar, eggs, and other components. The mix was named for the company that developed it. In order to successfully prepare gingerbread, water and baking powder were the only things that were required.
By 1947, more than 200 local businesses were making cake mixes, but customers were still skeptical. Poor packaging often put the quality of the mix in danger. Mixes were still expensive, hard to predict how they would turn out, and tasteless. Some businesses lightened the mixture by adding soap.
After World War II, many of the women who had undertaken industrial jobs in place of troops during the war returned to their traditional domestic responsibilities. However, American gender norms have changed for the better. In 1950, one in four married women were employed.
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As domesticity returned and women found themselves short on time, they turned to items like Minute Rice and Reddi-Whip. Contrary to popular belief, women gradually began to incorporate convenience foods into their own home-cooked meals.
After four years of development, General Mills finally introduced their Betty Crocker Ginger Cake mix in 1947. Due to declining demand for flour beginning in the 1920s, General Mills jumped on the convenience food bandwagon. Rather than baking their own bread, households could now buy it instead after the war’s end.
In response to rising incomes and increased awareness of the importance of a healthy diet, families began eating more expensive foods like fruits, vegetables, and meats and less inexpensive ones like potatoes and bread. Those losses in flour sales were expected to be covered by increased sales of mix for General Mills.
General Mills launched Devil’s Food and Party Cake in 1949. Customers could make white, yellow, or spice cakes using Party Cake’s eggs and spices. 1952: Betty Crocker introduced yellow and white cake; 1953: honey spice and angel food; 1954: chocolate.
For many women, cakes—as opposed to other “convenience” foods—were a symbol of femininity and domestic fulfillment. Women felt pressure to create the perfect homemade dessert. Cake was the second “real measure of a woman’s talent at cooking,” according to a 1953 Gallup survey. The domestic ideologies of American women were diverse; some preferred combinations, while others stuck to recipes.
Cake mix sales increased between January 1947 and August 1948, but they quickly plateaued. General Mills consulted marketing expert Ernest Dichter to find out why. Dichter concluded after speaking with groups of women that the simplicity of mixtures made women feel too indulgent. As a result, General Mills discontinued the use of dried eggs, forcing women to add their own. Revenue has risen.
Betty Crocker made Answer Cake in 1954. It is a cake and frosting mix that comes in a pan. It was meant for simple families. Answer: After being taken off the market, cake came back in 1976 as Stir ‘n Frost mix. Betty Crocker came out with her Chiffon cake mixes in 1958. Harry Baker, a well-known caterer, made the Chiffon, which has the richness of butter cake and the lightness of sponge cake.
Products clogged grocery shelves in rich postwar America, forcing companies to develop creative marketing strategies to stay competitive. Betty Crocker, the fictional housewife who served as General Mills’ mascot, represented excellence and value.
Crocker’s example was used by General Mills to refute the idea that mixes are “shortcuts” in daily living. Some Crocker devotees were offended by the marketing tactics she employed.
Because of its use of “high impact” hues like as red in its packaging, General Mills was able to attract a large number of female customers. Through advertising on television, it promoted a fourth supper that included Betty Crocker cake as part of the meal. Women were reminded how hectic their lives were on a regular basis whenever they saw advertisements for “shortcuts” like mixes.
Also, the company put fancy frosting designs on the boxes and in cookbooks to draw attention away from how easy it was to make the mix. Success started to be judged by how it looked instead of how it tasted or felt. The fact that Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook is so popular shows how important looks are. It came out in 1950 and sold more than a million copies in its first year.
By the 1950s, General Mills, Duncan Hines, and Pillsbury were in charge of the cake mix market. General Mills started included pudding in their mixes in 1977 to enhance moisture. Pillsbury is the source of this concept.
Since then, General Mills has offered a wide range of cake mix flavors and variations, including Stir’n Streusel and Light Style, a variation with a third fewer calories than the original. Betty Crocker cake mix is still frequently used in the year 2010.
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