I am so excited to announce a new feature on the blog. A vintage book club!
Vintage Book Club
I am an avid reader and I absolutely love books. They are such a fun way to learn and soak in new experiences. I decided it would be fun to start a little virtual book club!
Do you care to join along?
Here is how it will work. At the beginning of every month I will announce the book we will be reading.
Later in the month I will update this post with some discussion questions. We can use the comments section below to share our thoughts with each other.
Since this is a blog geared towards vintage living, most of the books that I select will be related to vintage life.
It may be an actual vintage book written in the early to mid 20th century. Or it may be a more current book that explores a topic from that era, or is set in that era.
I am so excited to go on a reading adventure with you!
Make sure you subscribe to the blog so you will be notified when the discussion questions get posted.
That is also the best way to stay updated on the new book selections every month!
Vintage Book Club Selection: September 2021
This month we will read Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food by Susan Marks.
Here is an excerpt from the book’s description:
“‘Born’ in 1921 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to proud corporate parents, Betty Crocker has grown, over eight decades, into one of the most successful branding campaigns the world has ever known. Now, at long last, she has her own biography. Finding Betty Crocker draws on six years of research plus an unprecedented look into the General Mills archives to reveal how a fictitious spokesperson was enthusiastically welcomed into kitchen and shopping carts across the nation.”
It is time to grab a copy of Finding Betty Crocker!
Are you familiar with Biblio.com? It is a treasure trove of used and rare books.
And did you know they have over 8 million books that include free shipping with no minimum purchase?
Click here and head on over to Biblio.com and search for Finding Betty Crocker, or any other used book you have been looking for!
Or you can find it here on Amazon.
Of course I also encourage you to support your local library and grab a copy from there!
Book Club Discussion Questions
Here are the discussion questions for the September 2021 selection: Finding Betty Crocker.
- Was there ever a time in your life that you thought Betty Crocker was a real person? Do you remember her being a part of your childhood?
- Do you feel drawn to the mysterious persona of Betty, or does her corporate branding turn you off?
- Do you think Betty filled a void for homemakers in the 1920s who felt unable to adapt old recipes to new technology?
- What role do you think Betty’s radio program played in Betty’s success?
- Are you surprised that Betty was supportive of women working outside the home?
- What do you think is the most important role Betty played during WWII?
- Would you have wanted to be a part of Betty’s Home Legion?
- Betty’s face changed many times throughout the decades. Which rendition of Betty is your favorite?
- The book is filled with many recipes, which one do you most want to make in your kitchen?
- Do you think Betty continues to play a role in the modern kitchen?
These are just some ideas to start off our discussion. There is no need for you to answer all of the questions, but feel free to pick a few of your questions and share your thoughts in the comments.
And of course, share any other thoughts you have that are not covered in the questions!
Also, just for fun, here is a picture of Betty’s Homemaker’s Creed.
Aunt G says
This sounds really fun! I ordered my book today. Looking forward to participating.
I’m excited to read it with you!
I really enjoyed reading this book! I was surprised by what a rich history Betty Crocker has, I honestly had no idea. I always just associated Betty Crocker with cake mixes.
Generally speaking, corporate branding tends to turn me off. But after reading about the role that Betty played in households throughout the decades, I have to admit that I find myself drawn to her mystique.
I think one thing I most appreciate about Betty is the way that she encouraged and championed women through challenging times. Particularly during WWII as she rallied women and shared information on how to make the most of rationing.
I think the earliest renditions of Betty were a bit terse looking. But I like how she softened throughout the decades. She seems much more approachable now.
Kathleen Argersinger says
I liked this book so much I’ve already given to a friend to read. Thanks for including the Homemaker’s Creed, Maggie , It sets the bar pretty high for the Home Legion members!
There was a Betty Crocker cookbook in my Mom’s (very unlegion like) kitchen and I saw Betty’s image on cakemixes, but since it was past the radio/letter writing years I didn’t think about her as a real person. I can understand the disappointment of the radio listeners and people who had received personal replies in the mail upon discovering she didn’t actually exist. I was struck by the advice and support those provided for so many women in different circumstances. The radio broadcasts must have been like finding the perfect on-line support group. Although I’m not a real follower of The Pioneer Woman, I couldn’t help thinking about her when reading about Betty. What if we found out she was not a real person? Is a trip to her Mercantile comparable to touring the test kitchens?
Thank you for choosing this book, Maggie. I, too, appreciated the matter-of-fact, but kind support that was provided to so many in different circumstances. Betty may not have been “real”, but the women who responded to the letters were, and I like to think of them opening the mail and feeling a bond with the writer.
Yes, I think one of the reasons she was so appealing is that in a way, there were a lot of “Bettys” working behind the scenes to create the overall Betty image. These women brought actual heart and warmth to the corporate figure.
Jolene Murphy says
I’ll order the book today!
Yay! I think you will enjoy it.
Aunt G says
Thanks so much for suggesting this book. I too have already loaned it to a couple of people. That I think Betty was real? Of course, I did! Her picture was on the cookbook and I was sure that she was in a bright and cheery kitchen dutifully jotting down these recipes for us all. In fact, even though I know now that she was a corporate creation, part of me still refuses to believe that fact. (I am very comfortable with this dichotomy in my inner universe.)
What struck me about the book was that she was a support and a help to women in times when the networking aspect of being a housewife was only available through social activities that often women could not attend because they were so busy being housewives! You can see the longing to have connection and communication with others in the letters she received.
I also see, however that along with this connection and communication was a corporation that was reinforcing the stereotypical role of the housewife and putting a lot of pressure on women to conform to a standard that didn’t leave much room for individualization. Women were being told where their place was and what their roles were by an entity that wanted to sell both a product and to cement women’s place in the home. That was good and fine for those women who willingly took on and embraced that role. Other women, however, had other dreams and aspirations. You can hear the frustration in some of the letters of the women who wrote to Betty. It seemed that the larger world was not listening to those dreams and aspirations, but instead telling women what they ought to be aspiring to. How frustrating it must have been not to fit into the role of homemake and knowing deep down in your soul that you want to do other things, but being told all would be well if you put on some make-up and learned how to make a good cake. It was not just General Mills telling women this, of course, but the kind face of Betty probably led many women to believe that she would understand. It must have been such a letdown to feel that she was a “friend” but that she had the same advice as the rest of the world—put on a pretty dress, make a meal for your family, and make sure your man is happy.
I work with a lot of young people in my career and I am so encouraged to see that they have so many more choices than women did in the past. (Women are being recruited to go into math, science and engineering!) I am grateful to be among the generation that had the choice whether to devote myself to being a full-time homemaker or to have a career as outside the home as well. (I would have been a dreadful full-time homemaker! People’s lives would have been in danger!) I am wondering, fellow book club readers, if you feel that the pendulum has swung a bit too much and that women who want to be full-time homemakers are now discouraged from it? Or have we finally reached a place in our society where people are free to make the choices that suit them best?
Thank you again, Maggie, for suggesting this book. I truly enjoyed it!
Ohhhh, these are wonderful thoughts! I agree with you on the networking aspect. I think her radio program in particular must have been a source of companionship to women as they went about their homemaking duties. And there must have been a sense of solidarity in the Homemaker’s Legion. And on the flip side, as you said, I also see how she perpetuated the expectation of the full time homemaker.
It is interesting to hear thoughts from a person who’s generation pioneerd their way through societal shifts in women working outside the home. And that’s an interesting question to pose about whether we have swung too far the other way or not. As somebody from a younger generation, I honestly don’t know if we have or have not. I am a full time homemaker and I find great purpose and peace in my role. I think generally my decision is respected in my own circle of friends and family. But I do feel that there are some negative stereotypes of full time homemakers, and that society as a whole perhaps has lost some respect for them. It is a job in and of its own. I assure, there is no sitting around eating bon bons around here!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I hope others will chime in too!