Vintage Betty Crocker cookbooks
Vintage Betty Crocker cookbooks are books featuring recipes and cooking advice from the fictional character Betty Crocker, whose was invented by the Washburn Crosby Co. in the 1920s and later came to represent the company General Mills.
Origins of Betty Crocker
The character of Betty Crocker was created by the Washburn Crosby Company in 1921 as a name to be used when replying to consumer baking questions. In 1924 the character appeared on the country’s first cooking radio show, which later became the nationally broadcast ‘Betty Crocker School of the Air’.
From the 1920s onwards the name was also used to promote a number of cooking pamphlets and recipe books, which gradually became the Betty Crocker Cookbook in 1950 (also known as the ‘Big Red’)
In 1936 Betty Crocker made her first visible appearance, in a portrait created by artist Neysa McMein. McMein combined the faces of every female staff member of the company’s Home Service Department to create the composite likeness.
Since then the character has changed appearance several times over the years to reflect the times, with the current version created from a combination of 75 different women of all ages and races.
Collecting vintage Betty Crocker cookbooks
Betty Crocker books have become highly popular with vintage cookbook collectors, due to their iconic place in American culture. As the brand developed through the 20th century the name came to represent a particular ideal of American family life, and many of today’s collectors are nostalgic for Betty Crocker recipes cooked by their parents or grandparents.
The books are also sought after as practical cookbooks, as they contain a large number of recipes that have remained popular since the 1940s and 50s. The most valuable books are those in excellent condition, which can be hard to find as the majority of vintage cookbooks were constantly used in a kitchen environment for many years.
Most used copies in average condition can be purchased for a few dollars online or in second hand stores, but some editions in top condition with their original dust jackets can sell for hundreds of dollars.
Notable Betty Crocker cookbooks
The most valuable and sought after Betty Crocker books include:
- The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (1950, 1956, 1961 and 1969 editions)
- Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (1969 edition)
- Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book (1963 edition)
Also sought after are the earliest pamphlets and books produced during the 1920s and 30s, including:
- What Every Woman Should Know About Baking: The New Meaning of Flour (1926)
- 15 Ways to a Man's Heart (1932)
- Betty Crocker's $25,000 Recipe Set (1932)
- Let the Stars Show You How to Take a Trick a Day with Bisquick (1935)
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