Once dubbed America's First Lady of Food, Betty Crocker pioneered cake mix and canned frosting . But, who is the mysterious woman behind the name? While corporate icons Sara Lee, Chef Boyardee, and even the red haired Wendy are based on real life people, Betty Crocker's story is a bit more complicated. Her history exists, it just happens to be a bit more artificial (much like her best products). 

The History

coffee, candy, chocolate, dairy product, sweet, cream, milk
Keshia Pimenta

In 1921, the Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis released an ad for their product, Gold Medal Flour. The newspaper ad contained a puzzle that readers could cut out and piece together. Readers who sent back the finished puzzle would receive a pincushion in the shape of a flour sack. Apparently, people were incredibly bored or were really into pincushions because over 30,000 people completed the puzzle. Who knew?

However, the surprising part was that along with the puzzle, people sent in baking questions. The department manager and his all-male staff would saunter on over and ask the all-female customer service crew. This is still 1921, people. For whatever reason, the department manager felt uncomfortable signing a male name on letters answering baking questions. So, he saw this as an opportunity to make up a fake female authority on cooking (unclear as to why he didn't just hire a female authority on cooking), but with this decision, Betty Crocker was born.

The Road to Stardom

chocolate, sweet, cake mix, candy
Angela Kerndl

She was given the last name Crocker in honor of the recently retired director of the company, William Crocker. Betty answered simple questions like, "How long do you knead dough?" And, tackled the more complicated ones like, "I don't make your fudge cake because I like white cake, but my neighbor does. Is there any danger of her capturing my husband?"

After quelling people's relationship worries and helping them in the kitchen, Betty got her own radio show in 1924. She was played by various actresses and in 1951 began appearing on television. People didn't seem to catch on to the changes in actresses and a woman's magazine even pointed out that she seemed to remain an "ageless 32". What a mystery.

In 1945 she was the second most popular woman in America, according to Fortune Magazine. And, today, she is still the most reliable source for baking supplies and quick sugar fixes. She clearly has a legacy that has outlasted even the actresses who have played her.

So, next time you're eating that can of frosting post-finals or making cake mix cookies, don't forget to thank William Crocker and the band of Betties who comprise the First Lady of Food.