I recognized the red dress with its prim white collar right away. I’d seen her on the Bisquick box a hundred times. I was five when I spotted Betty Crocker in the snack bar on an Army base in Germany.
The memory of that day is vivid. I left my mother absentmindedly turning a blue graham cracker box in her hands, and sidled toward the table where Betty Crocker sat, reading a magazine.
“I know who you are,” I said. “You’re Betty Crocker.”
She looked up. Her face melted into a dazzling smile that I knew was just for me. She nodded and went back to reading her magazine. I could not believe my luck. I could hardly stand it! I ran back to my mother’s side and tried not to point, “It’s Betty Crocker!” I whispered.
My mother smiled. “Oh, yes. It IS Betty Crocker. Isn’t that nice?”
How could a day be any better?
Years later, when my siblings and I were grown and married, we were sitting around my parents’ dining room table for a family dinner. We were talking about the interesting people we’d met through the years.
“I’ll never forget meeting Betty Crocker,” I said.
“Annie’s idyllic childhood…” said my brother. “Where were we?”
“Who introduced you?” asked my sister. “Mrs. Butterworth?”
“Maybe Uncle Ben,” answered my other brother.
My dad laughed, “Annie, you can sure think ’em up.”
“Mom was there, she knows. Weren’t you, Mom?” I implored.
“Annie, Betty Crocker isn’t real.”
“Mom, we met her in the snack bar in Germany. You know we did.”
“Oh yes, I remember that woman… she was chosen to dress up and promote Betty Crocker products for General Mills. You know, if you look at the portraits of Betty Crocker over time, you’ll see they change with time, but they never age.”
My mother went on to tell us how she would never forget meeting Elsie, the Borden Cow, at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. It turns out the Borden Cow was real.
Betty Crocker may have had her picture on the Bisquick Box, but she wasn’t the one that mixed Bisquick into Sunday morning magic as my father’s sound track of The Music Man played in the background. She wasn’t the one who let me stand on the stool next to her and stir as we sang 76 Trombones. She wasn’t the one who let me lick the spoon.
It turns out I didn’t meet Betty Crocker in a snack bar on an Army base in Germany, after all. I met her in my mother’s kitchen.
Next week: The Donkey in the Garage
Well I’m no Betty Crocker, but Robert and I did make orange Jello last night. It brought back memories for me of stirring the steaming water into the bowl and watching it change color. I remember the anticipation, while waiting for it to set up in the fridge. I could feel the memories taking hold in Robert last night as he said some of the same things I’m sure I must have said to my mom in our sunny kitchen in Florida. Tonight we will share our creation with our girls(Sage and Mom), who have been at the beach for 5 days. Won’t they be impressed with our culinary skills? Betty Crocker would be proud!
Your story reminded me of the time I met the REAL Misty of Chincoteague pony at the Byrd Theatre. After seeing the movie of her life story a man walked her across the stage to the delight of all of us horse loving young girls. Those kinds of meetings are never forgotten!
I’m so glad that you were brave enough to go up to Betty Crocker and speak to her! They can’t take that or her smile away from you.
GREAT story. I’d say you DID meet Betty Crocker in Germany. Why the heck was she in GERMANY promoting General Mills products?
This is one of my favorites. I loved the humor used throughout the story. I can imagine a little girl being star struck thinking she’s met a real “celebrity”. I really enjoyed the title. I have inherited the nickname Betty Croker because I love to bake cakes and cupcakes.