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Updated on March 19, 2014

Duncan Hines

Successful Traveling Salesman

Most people know that Betty Crocker was just an advertising invention, but they may be surprised to find out that Duncan Hines was a real person, not just a catchy name for cake mixes.

Duncan Hines was a travelling salesman who wasn’t too happy about the quality of food available along the road. Hines worked out of Chicago for a local firm and traveled across the United States. He went to lots of different towns and came to know the good and bad restaurants along the road.

1952 Duncan Hines endorses new range

So he started taking notes at all the restaurants he visited and eventually had a list of hundreds of restaurants that were clean and served good food. After years compiling the list, in1936 he published his guide, Adventures in Good Eating. The book did surprisingly well and was soon an essential accessory for long car trips. The guidebook listed the location and hours of the eateries along with general price guidelines and the main menu items.

Duncan Hines Endorsed Restaurant


New Career in His 50's

Restaurants quickly took notice and started vying for a favorable mention in the frequently updated guidebook. The restaurants would advertise a favorable rating on their signs and menus. Duncan Hines soon quit his job and travelled the country updating his guidebook. He also added a guidebook that recommended clean and reasonably priced lodgings around the country.

Duncan Hines eventually wrote a newspaper column, named after his guidebook and he started producing cookbooks and he became noted as an expert on meat carving. Hines also lent his name to a New York based line of baked goods, but his name on cake mixes is how he is known to most people.

Carving Guide


Selling His Name

In the late 1940’s Roy Park was looking for a trusted food critic to endorse his new product line. Park paid for a survey of housewives to find which critic was the most trusted and Duncan Hines came out on top. Hines was approached and he agreed to permit his name to be used on the new line of cake mixes. The mixes were so popular that almost immediately dominated the market and are still very big sellers.

Duncan Hines endorsed many other kitchen products along with working on his popular guidebook, but today he is mostly remembered for cake mixes that he nothing to do with, beyond lending his name to the product.



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