Betty Crocker, an invented persona and mascot, is a brand name and trademark of American food company General Mills.
The name was first developed by the Washburn Crosby Company in 1921 as a way to give a personalized response to consumer product questions.
Company executives chose the name "Betty" because it seemed warm and friendly to them. The surname "Crocker" was borrowed from retired executive William Crocker. At first "Betty Crocker" was used to provide the simulation of a personal signature to replies to customers asking advice. In 1924, Betty Crocker got a voice with the debut of the daytime radio broadcast Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air, voiced and scripted for a decade by Marjorie Husted.
In 1928, Washburn Crosby merged with five or more other milling companies to form General Mills, which continues to use the Betty Crocker brand on various products.
In 1929, Betty Crocker coupons were introduced. Inserted in bags of flour, they could be used to reduce the cost of Oneida flatware. By 1932, this scheme had become so popular that General Mills began to offer an entire set of flatware; the pattern was called "Friendship" (later renamed "Medality"). In 1937 the coupons were printed on the outside of packages, which told purchasers to "save and redeem for big savings on fine kitchen and home accessories in our catalog". Betty Crocker points are still in use, and are found on a wide array of General Mills products, from flour to cereal to soup to soy milk. They can be redeemed for discounts on Betty Crocker catalog items.
From 1930, General Mills issued softbound recipe books, including in 1933 Betty Crocker's 101 Delicious Bisquick Creations, As Made and Served by Well-Known Gracious Hostesses, Famous Chefs, Distinguished Epicures and Smart Luminaries of Movieland.
In 1949, actress Adelaide Hawley became Betty Crocker for many years. She appeared for several years on the Burns and Allen show, and even had her own TV show for awhile. She also appeared in the CBS network's first color commercial, in which she baked a "mystery fruit cake". Hawley continued to portray Betty Crocker until 1964.
A portrait for Betty Crocker first appeared in 1936, subtly changed over the years to accommodate General Mills' cultural perception of the American homemaker: knowledgeable, caring and Caucasian. The current image of Betty Crocker, according to the corporation, is actually a combination of over 20 real-life women thought by the company to represent the true Betty Crocker.
In Golden Valley, Minnesota, the Minneapolis suburb where General Mills is headquartered, there is a street called Betty Crocker Drive.
In 2005 the 10th edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook was published. This year it is also available in Spanish. There are also a number of Betty Crocker-branded products, such as hand mixers, which support General Mills' product line of foodstuffs