Home Economists
Heard On Radio


Lincoln, Me. (DG)---

When network radio began in 1926, the main focus was the evening hours.  Of course, this was the time the whole family was home.  While the evening was filled with entertainment, the daytime was another matter.  With the exception of a handful of programs, the networks didn't worry too much with the daytime.  That time was filled with programs from the local stations.  As each year passed, there were more network daytime programs on the air.  With the exception of an occasional musical or variety program, the dominant daytime radio programs of the early years consisted of cooking and household hints.  Of these programs, we're going to look at 4 ladies of fact and fiction who hosted this type of program.  They are Winifred S. Carter, Mary Ellis Ames, Frances Lee Barton, and of course, the first lady of cooking, Betty Crocker.  What set them apart from the other cooking show hostesses concerned a second job they all had.  These 4 ladies were also home economics advisors for different companies in magazines.

During the 1920's and 1930's, Winifred Carter was the advisor for Procter & Gamble.  In the magazine ads, she gave advice and recommendations for products like Chipso, PandG The White Naphtha Soap, and the product she was most famous for, Crisco.  Just for the asking, Ms. Carter sent information on how the housewife could do more with the 3 mentioned products.

During the 1930-1931 radio season, Ms. Carter hosted COOKING TRAVELOGUE. Although this program was on the air briefly (I don't have the exact dates when the program began and ended), it had the rare distinction on airing on all 3 national networks that were in business at the time.  It was on the air on Monday at 10:45 AM for NBC's Blue Network; Friday at 11:15 AM for Columbia; and Saturday at 10:30 AM for NBC's Red Network.

Crisco With Winifred S. CarterOn the program, Ms. Carter offered cooking hints that most likely required the services of Crisco.  (I suppose you could bake a pie with Chipso and PandG, but I wouldn't recommend it!).

When the program went off the air, Ms. Carter continued her advisor role by creating new recipes in Crisco magazine ads during the early and mid 1930's.  She was also featured in a 1935 Crisco contest where she asked the readers to create a name for a "New Crisco Pie" creation.  The winning entry received the grand prize of $1000 (which was a lot of money back then). 

Frances Lee Barton was the advisor for General Foods.  She was featured in magazine ads for Calumet Baking Powder and Swans Down Cake Flour during the 1930's.  Her daytime program was on the air from 1932-1935 on NBC's Red Network.  After the program went off the air, Ms. Barton continued her recommendations and recipes for different General Foods products in magazine ads into the 1950's.

Mary Ellis Ames offered her advising services in behalf of the Pillsbury Flour Mills Company during the early to mid 1930's.  When flour was needed for a recipe (which was often), Ms. Ames highly recommended Pillsbury's Best.  It was the "Balanced Flour" that was perfect for cooking and baking.

On the radio, Ms. Ames hosted COOKING CLOSEUPS on the Columbia Network from 1933-1936.  The program was on the air on various weekday mornings at 11:00 AM.  If that wasn't enough, Ms. Ames also offered recipes on the Pillsbury's Best commercials on TODAY'S CHILDREN over NBC's Blue Network.  To obtain the recipes, the housewives had to send their names and addresses to the Pillsbury Flour Mills Company.      

Gold Medal With Betty CrockerWe conclude this article with the most famous expert on cooking, the one and only Betty CrockerSoundbyte.  Her long running radio program was the first and the last of its kind.  It was the first daytime network cooking program--- and the last network cooking program left on the air 27 years later.  Over that span, many great tasting and inexpensive recipes were offered to the housewives who listened to her.  Of course, these recipes required the services of Gold Medal Flour and other General Mills products.

As you already know, times have changed since radio's golden age ended.  The way people prepare meals have changed drastically.  Betty Crocker adjusted with those changes--- and would once again bring the latest recipes to radio.  In 1999, Betty Crocker was heard on radio once again.  Although the recipes and hints are for the modern lifestyle we have today, the program is basically the same as it was when it aired during radio's golden age.

Cooking during radio's golden age was an impressive achievement.  Although the housewives knew what they were doing in the kitchen, they didn't mind taking advantage of the helpful hints and recipes offered by Winifred Carter, Frances Lee Barton, Mary Ellis Ames, and Betty Crocker on their radio programs.  The results were very satisfying to every family member's taste buds--- and the Tums could be saved for another day!