Reuniting over the red spoon

A Betty Crocker reunion brings seven decades of talent back where it all began – in the Betty Crocker Kitchens
Women who have worked on Betty Crocker pose for a photo in the Betty Crocker Kitchens

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.

“We all have a little piece of Betty in our hearts, and we are forever bound by it. That sets us apart from the typical office team. Our common mission of representing Betty Crocker was set before us and we continue to carry it forward today and into the future,” adds Swanson Wheaton.

Meet the Bettys

Jackie Sheehan

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

Alice Hawks, who is approaching her 95th birthday, was the oldest in attendance.

Hawks started in the Betty Crocker Kitchens in 1961 as a recipe tester. She went on to be a flour representative and Betty Crocker cookbook editor. Hawks retired in 1987. 
When asked what her favorite dish is to make, she said, “I love pies,” though her son, who accompanied her to the reunion, shared that the Betty Crocker Curry Chicken and Fruit Salad recipe was a staple in their house while growing up.

Karen Blanchard

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.”

Blanchard brought the Caramelized Onion Focaccia recipe to the reunion because she loves baking bread but says her favorite Betty Crocker recipe is the Classic Sugar Cookies recipe.

“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

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.”