Real or Fictional? Which of the following were real people? Betty Crocker, Sara Lee, Chef Boyardee?
Sara Lee and Chef Boyardee were real people.
Sara Lee: REAL. Charlie Lubin, a bakery entrepreneur, decided to name his new line of cheesecakes after his daughter, Sara Lee, when she was 8 years old. His company was purchased in 1956 by Consolidated Foods, where Mr. Lubin continued to serve as a senior executive for many years. In 1985, Consolidated Foods changed its name to Sara Lee Corporation. Although Sara has never had a management role at the corporation, she has appeared in some television advertisements for their bakery products. In her words, her father told her the product “had to be perfect because he was naming it after me.” Today, Sara is a philanthropist who spends most of her time supporting the education and advancement of women and girls in science.
Chef Boyardee: REAL. He was indeed a real person, born Ettore (Hector) Boiardi in northern Italy in 1898. Young Hector was a culinary savant who reportedly worked in restaurant kitchens at the tender age of eleven before immigrating to America and joining his brother in New York at age seventeen. His brother’s employment as a waiter at the prestigious Plaza Hotel helped gain young Hector entrance to the Plaza’s kitchen, and over the next several years Boiardi whipped up his creations for renowned hotel kitchens in New York, West Virginia, and finally Cleveland, where he opened his own restaurant.
Boiardi’s spaghetti sauce soon became famous throughout Cleveland, and his restaurant patrons began asking him for extra portions of sauce to take home with them, which he doled out in milk bottles. Demand for his spaghetti sauce grew so large that he started producing it in an adjacent loft and selling it with dry pasta and packets of his special cheese. Hector Boiardi later plunged into full-time pasta making, adopted the (for Americans) easier-to-spell “Boyardee” version of his name, and moved his operations to Pennsylvania before eventually merging with American Home Foods (now International Home Foods), with whom he worked until his death in 1985. The Chef Boyardee brand is now part of the ConAgra portfolio.
Betty Crocker: FICTIONAL. A cultural icon and one of the best-known women in America, Betty Crocker, never existed. The Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis, one of the six big milling companies that merged into General Mills in 1928, received thousands of requests each year in the late 1910s and early 1920s for answers to baking questions. In 1921, managers decided that it would be more intimate to sign the responses personally; they combined the last name of a retired company executive, William Crocker, with the first name “Betty,” which was thought of as “warm and friendly.” The signature came from a secretary, who won a contest among female employees. (The same signature still appears on Betty Crocker products.)
In 1936 Betty Crocker got a face. Artist Neysa McMein brought together all the women in the company’s Home Service Department and “blended their features into an official likeness.” The widely circulated portrait reinforced the popular belief that Betty Crocker was a real woman. One public opinion poll rated her as the second most famous woman in America after Eleanor Roosevelt. Over the next seventy-five years, her face has changed seven times: she became younger in 1955; she became a “professional” woman in 1980; and in 1996 she became multicultural, acquiring a slightly darker and more “ethnic” look.
NET CHECK INS:
A total of 40 stations checked into the tonight’s net, and 8 of them got the correct answer. Congrats to:
- KD6JPD – Jerry
- K6KUB – Fred
- KK6LP – Jeff
- W6NVY – Gary
- W6TCB – Kevin
- AF6TT – Leon
- WA6USL – Murray
- N6ZZK – Theo
Thanks to all for taking part in tonight’s net and supporting the Association.