[caption id="attachment_70793" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2021\/01\/crocker.jpg" alt="" class="size-full wp-image-70793" \/> Since her first rather matronly portrait was drawn in 1936, there have been eight official portraits of Betty Crocker in her 100-year reign. The most recent was drawn in 1996. Each reflected the changing fashion and culture of its time. All eight hang on a wall in the Betty Crocker kitchen complex, which features seven commercial kitchens each named after a different region of the U.S. \u2013 Arizona Desert, California, Cape Cod, Chinatown, Hawaiian, Pennsylvania Dutch and Williamsburg. There is one portrait of Betty which shows her in a green dress in the General Mills archives, but it was never shown to the public. Apparently the Queen of the Kitchen has always preferred to be seen in red and white.[\/caption]\r\n\r\nLaura Dean Bennett\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nBefore there was Martha Stewart, there was Betty Crocker.\r\n\r\nAs much as I have appreciated Martha Stewart\u2019s cookbooks and enjoyed devouring her \u201cLiving\u201d magazine, I have to say, it\u2019s Betty Crocker who really takes the cake.\r\n\r\nI\u2019m probably one of the millions of children whose first cookbook was Betty Crocker\u2019s Cook Book for Boys and Girls, which was first published in 1957.\r\n\r\nMom also gave me the 1972 edition of Betty Crocker\u2019s Cookbook.\r\n\r\nHardly a week goes by that I\u2019m not paging through that old, well-worn classic.\r\n\r\nBetty Crocker\u2019s recipes \u2013 along with my grandmother\u2019s, my mother\u2019s and her best friend, Mary Lou Dilley\u2019s \u2013 have guided me in the kitchen all of my life.\u00a0\r\n\r\nI\u2019ve had to use packing tape and duct tape to keep the spine on it, but like a Timex, my copy of Betty Crocker\u2019s Cookbook \u2013 nearly 50 years old now \u2013 takes a licking and keeps on ticking.\r\n\r\nWho knew that, since 1950, Betty Crocker has published more than 250 cookbooks.\r\n\r\nShe may be a fictional character, but she ranks right up there with Santa Claus, Barbie and Uncle Sam.\r\n\r\nThese days, Betty Crocker draws more than 12 million visitors to her website each month.\r\n\r\nHer legend began in 1921 when a company that produced flour, the Washburn Crosby Company \u2013 later known as General Mills \u2013 was looking for a bit of promotion.\r\n\r\nThey had great success with a contest in which consumers completed a puzzle and won a pin cushion in the shape of a sack of flour.\r\n\r\nIt surprised them that in addition to a prize, many of their consumers had questions about baking.\r\n\r\nThe company was savvy enough to realize that they had struck gold.\r\n\r\nThey created an imaginary woman named Betty and gave her the surname of their recently retired company director, William G. Crocker, and asked the women in the office to each take a stab at a signature for Betty.\r\n\r\nSecretary Florence Lindeberg turned in the winning signature, which is still in use today.\r\n\r\nBetty Crocker immediately began receiving tons of mail and eventually, thousands of telephone calls.\r\n\r\nShe was so beloved that she even had fans who would travel to the General Mills office in hopes of meeting her.\r\n\r\nThe staff was instructed to tell those asking for her that Betty wasn\u2019t in when she received a telephone call or visitors dropped in to meet her. \u00a0\r\n\r\nAccording to a 1945 Fortune magazine article, Betty was, at that time, receiving 5,000 letters a day and was second only to Eleanor Roosevelt as the most recognized woman in the world.\r\n\r\nThat article exposed the fact that she wasn\u2019t a real person, but instead of her fans turning against her, the revelation just made her that much more iconic.\r\n\r\nEight portraits of Betty have been commissioned over the years and in each, she\u2019s wearing a different outfit, but always in her signature colors, red and white.\r\n\r\nThe first was painted in 1936 and each subsequent portrait was painstakingly designed to reflect the fact that Betty Crocker was keeping up with our changing culture.\r\n\r\nThe current portrait of Betty was released in 1996, as part of Betty Crocker\u2019s 75th anniversary celebration.\r\n\r\nBetty Crocker has answered millions of questions from all over the world and dispensed sage advice on everything that goes on in the kitchen and into homemaking.\r\n\r\nHer advice actually came from a crack team of home economists, some of whom have been called upon to write Betty\u2019s cookbooks and bread-baking books.\r\n\r\nBetty Crocker hosted the first radio cooking show \u2013 The Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air, which began airing in 1924.\r\nIt was an instant hit.\r\n\r\nFor two decades her voice actually belonged to Marjorie Child Husted, who also wrote and hosted the program.\r\n\r\nAfter getting picked up nationally by NBC, the show went on to become one of the longest-running radio shows in history, regularly drawing more than a million listeners.\r\n\r\nIn 1943, when America went off to war, Betty Crocker pitched in to do her part.\r\n\r\nShe produced a mealtime guide so women at home could help the war effort by learning how to stretch everything \u2013 meat, vegetables and even fat rations.\r\n\r\nBetty\u2019s more than 250 cookbooks have always been gobbled up by her adoring fans \u2013 nationally and internationally.\r\n\r\nHer first book, published in 1950, was Betty Crocker\u2019s Picture Cookbook.\r\n\r\nIt sold nearly two million copies in its first two years and is now in its 21st edition, with a distribution of well over 75 million copies.\r\n\r\nSaid to be the most popular cookbook in American history, it\u2019s been nicknamed \u201cBig Red\u201d and \u201cThe Kitchen Bible.\u201d\r\n\r\nHaving proven herself to be Queen of the Culinary Arts for a hundred years, I don\u2019t expect that we\u2019ll be seeing the end of Betty Crocker\u2019s reign any time soon.