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Betty CrockerBetty Crocker - This fictional female spokesperson was created in 1921 by the Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis (later to be General Mills) to answer a flood of questions about baking that resulted from their promotion of Gold Medal Flour. Her character's last name was taken from the company's former treasurer/director William G. Crocker; and her first name "Betty" was chosen for its all-American friendly sound.

Betty Crocker represented the Gold Medal Home Service Staff, which became the General Mills Home Service Department when the Washburn Crosby Company consolidated in 1928. In 1936, artist Neysa McMein blended the facial features of all the women in the company’s Home Service Department to create the first official likeness of Betty Crocker.

From her debut on radio in 1924 (The Betty Crocker School of the Air, 1924-48) through her later appearances on television, Betty Crocker became one of the most recognized female figures in America. According to one poll, Betty was the second most famous woman in America after Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1950, the best-selling "Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook" was published. It earned the nickname "Big Red."

In 1951, actress Adelaide Hawley portrayed Betty Crocker on television beginning with the CBS network's first color commercial (on which she baked a mystery fruit cake) and on THE BETTY CROCKER STAR MATINEE/ABC/1951-52.

In 1972, feminists from the the National Organization of Women filed a class action suit against General Mills claiming that Betty Crocker promoted sexual and racial discrimination by promoting the image of a woman as homemaker.

In the 1980s, General Mills updated their classic female housekeeper to reflect a modern professional woman. Chicago reporter, Bob Green finding her new image rather sexy went in search of a look-alike. He discovered Randy Morgan, a 39-year-old native of Whitewater, Wisconsin who worked as an assistant in an Art Gallery. General Mills however, declared they had relied solely on the artist's imagination for their trademark mascot as they have for all their portraits since 1936.

TRIVIA NOTE:  In 1943, The Quaker Oats Company introduced Mary Alden, a fictitious version of Betty Crocker who offered her recipe for her favorite Oatmeal Cookies to a war time public forced to ration sugar and butter products. Her recipe used bacon drippings or shortening and a minimal amount of sugar.

The former site of the Washburn Crosby Milling Company is located at 701 South 1st Street in downtown Minneapolis along the Mississippi River. Once the home of Betty Crocker Kitchen and WCCO radio, General Mills closed the plant in 1965 when the company moved its headquarters to Golden Valley. The riverfront milling complex is now a National Historic Landmark. See also - "Aunt Jemima"

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