Duncan Hines: How a Traveling Salesman Became the Most Trusted Name in Food

Duncan Hines: How a Traveling Salesman Became the Most Trusted Name in Food

Language: English

Pages: 354

ISBN: 0813144590

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Duncan Hines (1880–1959) may be best known for the cake mixes, baked goods, and bread products that bear his name, but most people forget that he was a real person and not just a fictitious figure invented for the brand. America's pioneer restaurant critic, Hines discovered his passion while working as a traveling salesman during the 1920s and 1930s―a time when food standards were poorly enforced and safety was a constant concern. He traveled across America discovering restaurants and offering his recommendations to readers in his best-selling compilation Adventures in Good Eating (1935). The success of this work and of his subsequent publications led Hines to manufacture the extremely popular food products that we still enjoy today.

In Duncan Hines, author Louis Hatchett explores the story of the man, from his humble beginnings in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to his lucrative licensing deal with Proctor & Gamble. Following the successful debut of his restaurant guide, Hines published his first cookbook, Adventures in Good Cooking (1939), at the age of 59 and followed it with The Dessert Book (1955). These culinary classics included recipes from many of the establishments he visited on his travels, favorites handed down through his family for generations, and new dishes that contained unusual ingredients for the era. Many of the recipes served as inspiration for mixes that eventually became available under the Duncan Hines brand.

This authoritative biography is a comprehensive account of the life and legacy of a savvy businessman, American icon, and an often-overlooked culinary pioneer whose love of good food led to his name becoming a grocery shelf favorite. Hatchett offers insightful commentary into the man behind the cake mix boxes and how he paved the way for many others like him.

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nearly five hour luncheon in which he was made a member of the Parisian society of Cercie des Tourists Gastronomes. At this dinner, he and Clara were served large portions of “fresh truffles in pastry shells, broiled sole, roast duck with browned new potatoes and green peas, fresh strawberries on ice cream with spun sugar cookies,” or what the French prefer to call sweet biscuits.652 Hines enthusiastically approved of the manner in which the French consumed their meals. “Eating, to your

1930s saddened Hines. Milton MacKaye, in his Post article, described his own irrational knee-jerk tendency when he saw one: “Many men—and I number myself among them—have what may be described as spinning-wheel trouble—that is, when they approach an inn with a spinning wheel or a couple of green glass bottles in the front yard, they step on the throttle. Hines says that this phobia against tea rooms, as such, makes many men miss a lot of good eating. Some of the best inns are cluttered up with

summer he began looking for work; surprisingly, he was unable to find it because, at nearly age nineteen, employers deemed him too young to hold down a mature adult job. He then discovered the editor of his college newspaper “was not only paid a salary, but reaped one-fourth of all advertising profits.” In that light, editing the campus newspaper looked like a worthy goal. Shortly afterward he embarked on a year of post-graduate work in business administration and he became the newspaper’s

pie,…country ham, candied yams, turnip greens with fatback [i.e., a slab of uncut bacon], beaten biscuits and cornbread,”53 their meals also consisted of “home-baked bread, wild turkey, venison, fried chicken, [fresh pork] sausage, and jam and molasses for biscuit topping.” Duncan and Porter were also treated to meals of “marvelously prepared stuffed fowl—turkey, chicken, guinea, or geese” as well as healthy portions of hickory-smoked hams.54 One species of Southern cooking Hines did not care

even attempt to make a good impression. His co-workers hated him. Molesworth, who was in his late twenties or early thirties, was by all accounts, an attractive young man who let it be known that from now on he ruled the roost.592 And he crassly reminded everyone that he had Hines’s blessing to run Adventures in Good Eating, Inc. as he saw fit. “I don’t think he went over with any of us very well,” said Mary Herndon. “I was not impressed.”593 None of those under his thumb could stand his

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