Monday, June 20, 2011

Cooking School Of The Air

General Foods debuted their "Cooking School of the Air" in l932.  It was conceived of as a program for housewives and mothers.  For all intents and purposes it's host Frances Lee Barton was just a Betty Crocker impersonator. Their programs even had the same name. The 15-minute show aired at 11:15 AM from a studio called the General Foods Radio Kitchen which was purported to reside on Park Avenue, in New York City.  This daytime program was on the air from 1932-1935 on NBC's Red Network.  The program was short lived, in it's final year, it was retooled to run for 30 minutes and renamed "Kitchen Party." More here.

Barton wasn't picked out of the air. She was also the general foods mascot/model (if you will) for their print ads. That part of her career predated her brief tour in radio. She was authoring cookbooks (or at least putting her name to them) since at least 1928. One of her early print sponsors was Swans Down Cake Flour.  They re-appeared as a broadcast sponsor as did Calumet Baking Powder. And the end of her radio program didn't stop her. She was still printing cook books at least through 1940, and still affiliated with General Foods. More here.

Her image and or her signature would appear on these ads as a seal of approval. And it helped. Her program was on 35 NBC affiliates. And she also sold booklets directly over the radio program. there were over a hundred individual pamphlets and they fitted neatly into a companion binder.We don't really have programs like these any more and it's more because people don't cook, not because people don't listen to the radio. But maybe the foodie revival will inspire some ingenue blogger to cross over to radio and modernize the idea.