The Chocolate Cult: 14 Facts about Duncan Hines

Thursday, March 26, 2020

14 Facts about Duncan Hines

When I think Duncan Hines, I think cake mixes, do you?

But the brand came from a man named Duncan Hines and today, March 26, in 1880, he was born. Some folks believe he would change several aspects of the culinary world. Keep reading if you'd like to learn more about him.

Duncan Hines 1946
#1: Hines was a traveling salesman who could barely cook. When would he have had time to become a cook let alone a chef while traveling across America in the 1920s through the 1940s? He did, however, need to eat, and that meant he ate at a lot of restaurants. However, he needed to watch his costs while he kept up his energy and his health. Given the decades of his work, this meant he had to deal with the Great Depression, too, which must have only made his job more difficult on all levels.

#2: Hines (with his wife's help) published guides for travelers. As he traveled in the early 20th century, he kept a list of where he ate and where he stayed. In 1936, he out a little booklet entitled Adventures in Good Eating that sold so well that he published an updated version each year until 1954.

#3: Food safety was a prime concern for Hines. He kept a notebook with him and said that he checked the kitchens of places that he ate. I wonder how he managed to get chefs and owners to let him back there but given the decades maybe they welcomed any attention and didn't want to risk losing a customer by saying "no". He also claimed that he checked the garage for the restaurants.

#4: In 1938, he out a book focused on hotels called Lodging for a Night that help hotels and motels to the same standards for travelers. His wife, Florence died that same year.

#5: Even though he was not a cook, in 1939, his Adventures in Good Cooking (Famous Recipes) and the Art of Carving in the Home was published. The recipes came from the various restaurants in his guide. You can check it out here.

#6: "Recommended by Duncan Hines" became a badge of pride for hotels and restaurants and they hung up signs declaring that they were in his guides. Yes, Hines charged places a fee to hang these signs as well as selling the signs themselves.

#7: In 946, Life ran an article about him and the changes his persona was helping to push in American homelife. I think WWII and the gender challenges it created also played a bit role, too.

#8: In the late 1940s, he partnered with Roy H. Park to form the Duncan-Hines company that started putting Hines' face and name on various new types of food items that were popping up in grocery shops across the country. While Hines brought his experiences with restaurants and hotels, Park brought in his marketing expertise.

#9: The first successful Duncan Hines product was Ice Cream! Within the first few years, Hines' name and image was on about 250 types of convenience foods and cake mixes weren't among them!

#10: When Duncan Hines cake mixes were introduced, that type of packaged mix had been around for some time. What made their brand different was that it required fresh eggs. It was so popular, that it quickly captured half of the market.

#11: Hines-Park quickly focused on baking mixes because of the cake mix success and followed it with pancake and muffin mixes.

#12: Hines may have targeted the housewife with his mixes and food items, but he wasn't a great guy according to his words and reports from his three wives. His nasty streak was purely sexist because he also had a bad reputation from men who worked with and for him as well.

#13: In 1957, Hines-Park sold their business to Procter & Gamble. As of 2018, Hines' brand is owned by Conagra Brands.

#14: Hines died on March 15, 1959. While he was born into poverty in 1880, he died a very wealthy man.

Sources Consulted in this Article:

About Us
Food and Wine
Restauranting Through History

No comments:

Amazon Recommendations

Matched Content Ads