Growing Up with Betty Crocker

I did not actually grow up with a person named Betty Crocker.   I did not jump rope with Betty Crocker.  It was not Betty Crocker who bested me in anything that required coordination including that new-fangled hula hoop.  I didn’t play paper dolls with Betty Crocker and I did not beat her in a spelling bee.  She is not the girl who had a crush on the same boy that I did in 6th grade.   Betty was none of those things, but she played an important part in my formative years.

imageBetty (with whom I am on a first name basis) is more than 30 years older than I am.  But she is not a real person.  She was created by  General Mills as a marketing gimmick in the 1920’s so the company would have a human touch in answering consumers’ questions about their products.

Nevertheless, she played a significant role in my young life. As far back as I can remember the  Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook was a fixture in our kitchen.  It was published in 1950, a couple of years before I was born. It was my mom’s number one go to cookbook.  By the time I learned how to cook, the cookbook was well-worn and splattered with foodstuff.  Pages had pulled out from the three-ring binder and tape was holding it together.  It continued to serve as the main cookbook for my family as long as my mom still cooked.  My mother eventually gave that book and her recipe box to a grandson who as it turned out made a career in the restaurant industry.

imageThe first cookbook I bought for myself when I got my first apartment was Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. It was copyrighted in 1969, several editions later than my mother’s.  This version had several changes.  It no longer was called a “picture” cookbook although it had more pictures than the original.   Statements such as, “The woman who knows her sauces is a Culinary Artist” were no longer found in the 1969 edition.  Few of the recipes are the same as in the 1950 version. Nevertheless, like my mom’s, my cookbook has been well used, splattered with food stuff and has lost pages.   Mine has a broken binding.  It is generally in

imageworse shape than my mother’s ever was. Although I have now collected many, many cookbooks, Betty Crocker is still my go to cookbook. In particular, I still use the pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving each year.

I never got over feeling that Mom’s edition was more desirable than mine (except for the obvious sexism).   As I got older I developed an appreciation for things from my childhood. I started a quest to find the edition of the cookbook that I knew growing up.  I did find one  in pristine shape that looked like the first edition.  I bought it, but I always felt it was a throwback reprint of the original one.

imageAnd then, one day, in some thrift store somewhere,  I found an original Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook.  It was battered. The binding had been broken and was taped. It had been given better care than ours because there was not nearly as much foodstuff splashed on it.  The previous owner had added  handwritten recipes as well as recipes that had been torn out of magazines.  What a delight to page through and see the old recipes! What a treasure I now have.  It might not have value to anyone else, but it means the world to me.

Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, just another thread of my life.

This post was motivated by Carolyn at Taking One Stitch At a Time who posted a recipe for stuffed green peppers and discussed her mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook.  Check out her blog.]



23 thoughts on “Growing Up with Betty Crocker

  1. susieshy45 February 5, 2015 / 4:43 am

    Great writing ! I know Betty Crocker only through her ready to make cake mixes and never knew there was a book to go with it.
    Thanks for sharing !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good Woman February 5, 2015 / 5:01 am

    Thanks for reading the blog. Betty’s cake mixes are just one of a whole line of products. Of course, she does very well with her cake mixes but I suspect the cook books pre-dated cake mixes at least it was before cake mixes were commonly available.


  3. samanthamacmaster February 5, 2015 / 1:56 pm

    Joy of Cooking and Betty Crocker. I could not make anything without them. Betty (I am also on a first name basis) is primary mostly cuz the tabs make it easier to find what I am looking for rather than the small print of Joy’s index.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman February 5, 2015 / 1:57 pm

      Good point–the tabs in the 3 ring version are very handy. They also published a bound version, and I am guessing those did not have tabs. Do you know if they did? Anyway thanks for reading my blog and for commenting.


      • samanthamacmaster February 5, 2015 / 4:38 pm

        No, altho I think maybe the edges of the pages were colored for each section in the bound book? I have had mine for years, and have no interest in a newfangled bound version! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good Woman February 6, 2015 / 1:30 am

          I guess for each edition they offered both a bound version and a 3 ring binder version. I always prefer he binder because they lay flat.


  4. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature February 5, 2015 / 2:47 pm

    Yup, Betty and I go way back too! Thanks for the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman February 6, 2015 / 1:32 am

      You are welcome. There is so much more info but I didn’t want the post to get much longer.


  5. Lorie Smith Schaefer February 5, 2015 / 3:26 pm

    I just ditched my 40 year old Betty cookbook. Broken binding, spattered, stuck-together pages and all. But first I tore out the five or so recipes I still use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman February 6, 2015 / 1:34 am

      They seem to be well-used and thus they do get messed up. I probably should get rid of the one I bought but I still use it for reference sometimes, as well as using several recipes. Was yours the original one or a later edition?


      • Lorie Smith Schaefer February 6, 2015 / 2:21 am

        It was the “pie cover” you showed. A wedding gift in 1973. I saved a few recipes–mostly cookies. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good Woman February 6, 2015 / 2:38 am

          OK. So that’s the one copyrighted in 1969. I actually could part with that one more easily than the ones from 1950. I don’t always prefer older things but I guess its the connection with my mom that adds significance.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Carolyn February 5, 2015 / 4:52 pm

    Thank you! This is a great story and brings back lots of memories for me as a child. The other day I was going through some pictures of my brother and sister and I when we were younger. I noticed in the background on a desk we had in the living room sitting on a bottom shelf was my Mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook. It was in pristine condition! I will never part with it….

    I think its great you found an older one even though it was tattered and well used. Good for you!

    Have a wonderful day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman February 6, 2015 / 1:36 am

      You got me started on thinking about this and I am very grateful. I am glad you followed up so I could link to you. Thanks much.


    • Good Woman February 6, 2015 / 1:39 am

      Absolutely. And besides each one conforming more to current fashion, they each seem to be younger than the previous one. I think the first two had a touch of gray in their hair. Thanks for commenting and for reading the post.


  7. saralynne7 February 6, 2015 / 2:05 am

    My mother gave me the 1969 edition when I married in 74. It is tattered and torn, much loved. As I became more of a health food nut I continued to return to Betty for the basics, and adapted a lot of her recipes to “healthier” In the cake section she shows us how to cut the baked layers and decorate them. There is a “cat cake that I have made for my youngest daughter half a dozen times. Good old Betty!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman February 6, 2015 / 2:07 am

      It certainly was in vogue for people of our generation apparently considering all these people who have responded. And we all seem to have a story to go with our cookbooks.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sew it up Buttercup February 7, 2015 / 12:13 am

    We have Betty Crocker here in Australia too but our real equivalent is Margaret Fulton. My Mum gave me her cookbook for my 21st birthday and I still use it. Some of its pages are splattered with recipe ingredients but I kind of like that too. It’s good to have these kinds of memories around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman February 7, 2015 / 12:34 am

      When I wrote about Betty Crocker it did not occur to me that her cookbook would not be universal. Thanks for telling me about Margaret Fulton. It adds a bit of global perspective to the whole topic. Love the memories.


  9. writing, writing, words words words. February 11, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    Thanks for that great story! 🙂 And beautiful blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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