The Rise and Legacy of Betty Crocker: A Kitchen Icon

I Am Betty” Musical Explores the Journey of America’s Beloved Homemaking Confidante

In the realm of American culinary history, few figures are as iconic as Betty Crocker. What began as a mere signature on letters to homemakers in 1921 evolved into a cultural phenomenon that spanned radio, television, and the hearts of millions of Americans. Betty Crocker, a fictitious character created by General Mills, became a symbol of wholesome American values and a trusted source of advice and comfort for women in the home. As the world premiere musical “I Am Betty” takes the stage at St. Paul’s History Theatre, it delves into the journey of Betty Crocker and the evolving roles of women in the 20th century.

The Creative Team Behind “Betty”

Playwright Cristina Luzárraga, composer Denise Prosek, and director Maija Garcia form the creative team behind “I Am Betty.” Luzárraga, at 34 years old, brings a fresh perspective to the story, while Prosek, a co-founder of Theater Latté, lends her musical talents to the production. Director Maija Garcia, known for her work on Broadway’s “Fela,” adds her expertise in choreography to the mix. Together, they aim to showcase the power and innovation of women behind the Betty Crocker brand.

Reflecting the Power of Women

The casting choice for “I Am Betty” is deliberate and aims to correct a checkered history. The nine-member, all-female cast each portrays approximately ten characters, highlighting the often invisible work of women. Director Maija Garcia emphasizes that the show aims to demonstrate that the marvels of the kitchen and homemaking are not achieved through magic but through the innovation and ingenuity of women.

Betty Crocker’s Impact and Legacy

Betty Crocker’s influence cannot be understated. Her image has graced the covers of over 75 million copies of the Big Red Book, a collection of recipes that has become a staple in American households since 1950. The enduring popularity of Betty Crocker is a testament to her ability to connect with people and offer something quick and easy in an increasingly busy world.

During World War II, Betty Crocker also became a patriotic symbol, rallying the nation during a time of great uncertainty. However, as the feminist movement gained momentum in the 1960s, Betty Crocker’s image began to clash with changing societal norms. While some argue that Betty Crocker’s image was both helpful and harmful to women, her message of recognizing and valuing the work done in the home continues to resonate.

The Story of Two Bettys

“I Am Betty” takes a multifaceted approach to the story of Betty Crocker, using two characters to represent the various women who played the role of Betty on radio, TV, and in print. The first act focuses on Marjorie Husted, a home economist and businesswoman who played a pivotal role in developing and promoting Betty Crocker. Husted’s story highlights the sexism she faced despite her significant contributions to the brand.

The second act centers around Barbara Jo Davis, a Black dietitian who spent 20 years in General Mills’ test kitchen. Davis’s story sheds light on the often uncredited and underrated work of women in the culinary industry. Her success after retiring from General Mills, running a successful barbecue sauce company with her husband, showcases the resilience and ingenuity of women like her.

A Musical Journey Through the Decades

The century-long span of “I Am Betty” allows for a vibrant exploration of different musical styles and eras. Composer Denise Prosek draws on ragtime, Andrews Sisters-esque harmonies, and classic Hollywood movie musicals to capture the essence of each decade. From boy-band music infused with doo-wop to protest songs of the 1960s and ’70s, the musical showcases the evolution of American music alongside the changing roles of women.


“I Am Betty” offers a captivating exploration of the rise and legacy of Betty Crocker, an American kitchen icon. Through the creative vision of playwright Cristina Luzárraga, composer Denise Prosek, and director Maija Garcia, the musical sheds light on the evolving roles of women and the power of innovation in the culinary world. As audiences witness the story of Betty Crocker unfold on stage, they are reminded of the enduring influence of this cultural figure and the countless women who have shaped the American culinary landscape.






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