Today we are going to delve into the 1920s just one more time this week. I didn’t realized that the Baby Ruth ad I posted on Monday was from the 1920s. I had done an exhaustive search way before Christmas looking for holiday centered ads and then scheduled them to post in advanced. It was purely coincidence that I followed it by the 1920s canape. Then I randomly found a wooden Betty Crocker recipe box from the 1920s mislabeled as an item from the 1940s in an antique store and decided to write a post about the origins.
Betty Crocker has been around since the 1920s. I am planning to write a more in depth post on her in the future but for today she was created by Washburn Crosby to help sell their Gold Medal Flour. As a promotional item, they created this wooden box called the Gold Medal Flour “Kitchen-Tested” Recipes. The recipes came in a nice wooden box with beautiful colored tabs and a handful of recipes. The fictional Betty Crocker promised in a message glued to the inside of the top of the box that “my associates and I actually test every batch of Gold Medal Flour” and that they know that Gold Medal Flour is “a prefect flour for every baking use”.
In the mid 1920s, the box was originally offered for a whopping seventy cents. Later, the wooden box was updated and sold for just one dollar. A customer obtained one of these boxes by mailing in their money with the coupon from the ad for Gold Medal Flour. New recipes were available in a few ways. First, one could tune into Betty Crocker’s radio show and write down any recipes heard on the program. The company may send out recipes at random. A customer could send a two cent stamp to the company (to cover postage) and they will mail a “set of recipes appropriate to that season” and “they will be mailed to you promptly”. Each new packet contained six new recipes and were available for each of the four seasons. Lastly you could cut out recipes that were included from time to time in the newspaper advertisements.
The recipes included in the box were not just for baking. Of course you could find recipes for breads, both quick and yeast, cakes, cookies and pies but it also had cards for soups, meat dishes, canning and for macaroni. Actually my favorite part of the box is a separate card they added to convince the 1920s customer to eat more macaroni and touted all of its nutritional values.
The previous owner of my box did not seem to take advantage of any of the offers to get new recipe cards nor did they add any of their own, There are a few recipe cards in the box that looked well used and I will definitely be testing out those. If any work out I will gladly share them in a later post.
“Kitchen-Tested!” Saves You From Costly Guesswork!” The Pittsburgh Press. November 20, 1925.
Marks, Susan. “Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food”. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
“The Washburn-Crosby Co.” The Cambridge City Tribune. January 20, 1927.
“This Week’s Prize Simplified Baking Recipe”. The Pittsburgh Press. March 8, 1929.