Thursday, September 8, 2011


A portrait of Betty Crocker first appeared in 1936. It subtly changed over the years, but always accommodated General Mills' cultural perception of the American homemaker: knowledgeable and caring. The current image of Betty Crocker, according to the corporation, is actually a combination of 75 real-life women of diverse backgrounds and ages. These portraits were always painted, with no real person ever having posed as a model, and they never showed the character from the shoulders down.

First Face of Betty...Adelaide Hawley Cumming

The General Mills Company created the character of Betty Crocker in 1948 to answer baking questions American women sent to the company by letter. General Mills hired Cumming because it thought she represented the stereotypical image of the American homemaker. From 1950-1952 Cumming appeared on the half-hour Betty Crocker Show and in 1952 on the Betty Crocker Star Matinee and Bride and Groom. She also appeared in many commericals touting cake mixes and other General Mills products. General Mills billed Cumming as "America's First Lady of Food" until 1964 when it dropped her at the age of 59 for someone younger.

After receiving a Ph.D. from New York University, Cumming went on to a second career as a teacher of English as a second language.

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