Once a Betty, always a Betty.
Once a Betty, always a Betty. That’s the shared sentiment for many of the people who have worked on Betty Crocker over the years.
It’s a special bond that brought them back together to reconnect where it all began – in the Betty Crocker Kitchens.
"We originally wanted to reunite to celebrate Betty’s 100th birthday in 2021, but COVID got in the way,” says Cathy Swanson Wheaton, executive editor of Betty Crocker cookbooks. “Everyone was so excited to finally reconnect—over all the good food that was lovingly prepared by the attendees.”
About 70 women showed up to connect with new and familiar faces and to reminisce about their working days.
The attendees represented seven decades of work in the Betty Crocker Kitchens, from developing and testing recipes to guiding kitchen tours. And each of them brought a favorite recipe to share. The spread included appetizers and sides, salads and mains, and desserts and breads.
Meet the Bettys
Jackie Sheehan started as an editor for Betty Crocker in November 2001. Before that, she was a senior editor with the Pillsbury Company for 13 years and made the transition to General Mills when Pillsbury was acquired.
“Throughout my 21-year career, I worked on thousands of recipes and several hundred supermarket magazines, as well as a few hardcover cookbooks,” says Sheehan.
Her favorite memories from working on Betty Crocker are the friendships she made with her fellow home economists.
“We were all passionate about cooking and baking and thoroughly enjoyed creating delicious, contemporary recipes,” says Sheehan. “Betty Crocker is a beloved icon, and my colleagues and I all felt a big thrill and responsibility to represent this treasured brand. While I’ve kept in contact with close friends, this reunion afforded the opportunity to reunite with people I haven’t seen in many years. It was an unforgettable evening.”
Alice Hawks, who is approaching her 95th birthday, was the oldest in attendance.
Karen Blanchard worked in the Betty Crocker Kitchens from 1990 to 2002 as a home economist conducting research for new products, creating recipes and testing them.
She says her favorite memories were working with consumers on special projects like recipe contests.
“It was nice to hear their stories about their favorite products and/or recipes. They expressed their trust in Betty Crocker recipes because the recipes are tested, and if they had a question, they could call to get their answers. We brought the best of what we do for the consumer to enjoy.”
“It's quick, tasty and my go-to recipe for everyday and special events. I can personalize it to meet any occasion. My grandchildren like making this recipe. It has become a tradition.”
Mary Bartz worked for Betty Crocker from 1976 to 2004, starting as a product representative and working her way up to director of the Betty Crocker Kitchens.
“As I moved into the ranks of management and eventually promoted to director, I was honored to work with professionals across all functions. There was great camaraderie, commitment and pride in working for a major consumer food products company,” says Bartz.
She brought Honey-Cardamom Crunch (now known as Honey-Ginger Crunch) to the reunion, a winning recipe from a Chex recipe contest.
“I made it to honor Kay Emel-Powell, a former Betty Crocker Kitchens home economist who passed away in August. She was one of the judges for the contest and this became one of her go-to recipes.”
Bartz says the turnout at the reunion was a testament to the bond of Betty Crocker.
“She was a creative concoction, yet we all felt it was our obligation to keep her alive and relevant.”