Pillsbury II DE-133 - History

Pillsbury II DE-133 - History

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Pillsbury II

(DE-133: dp. 1,200,1. 306'0", b. 36'7", dr. 12'3"; s. 21 k. cpl. 216; a. 3 3", 8 40mm., 6 dcp., 2 dct., 1 dcp. (hh.), cl. EdsaR)

The second Pillsbury (DE-133) was laid down by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 18 July 1942; launched 10 January 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Elsie G. Richardson and commissioned 7 June 1943, Lt. Comdr. W. Parker, USNR, in command.

Afhr shakedown Pillebury'~ first duty was as flagship for Escort Division 4 escorting convoys into Casablanca and Gibraltar. Pill~bury then reported to Task Group 21.12 consisting of CVE Guactalcanal and four DE's, on "hunterkiller" patrol to seek out and destroy enemy submarines operating along or near convoy routes from the United States to Europe.

On the night of 8 April 1944, planes from Guactalcanal (CVE-60) attacked a surfaced German U-boat. The U-boat immediately submerged for deep evasive tactics. Pill~bury and Flaherty (DE-135) raced to the scene and Pillebury made initial sound contact and attacked with hedge hogs. The depth charges forced the U-boat to the surface, but the German sailors were determined to fight to a finish with the torpedoes. Flaherty joined Pillsbury, and in a murderous crossfire made short work of U-616. Six officers, including the Captain, and fifty-seven of the crew were captured.

Afhr repair at Norfolk, the hunter-killers sailed from Norfolk in May with a special mission to "bring one back live."

On 4 June, about 100 miles off the Cape Verdes, sound contact was made on a U-boat trying to penetrah the destroyer screen for a shot at Guadalcanal. Two pilots sighhd the submarine running under the surface, and splashed the sea

with gunfire to noint out the contact to Pillsbury, Jenks (DE 665), and Chatelain (DE-149) rushing to the attack. The destroyers fired their depth charges and in 13 minutes forced the submarine to the surface. In a withering fire of small arms and light gunnery the German gun crews were swept from the decks. Pillsbury lowered a boarding party and, in a drama reminiscent of old Navy days, the boarding party rushed on board and took as prisoners the U-boat Captain, five officers, and fifty-three of her crew. A 2,500 mile haul to Bermuda was made, with U-505 trailing meekly on the end of a tow line. The captured submarine revealed some of the German Navy's most guarded secrets. For this demonstration of conspicuous gallantry and achievement, Pillsbury was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

On 24 April 1945 Pillsbury, as a member of Task Unit 22.7.1 operating in the North Atlantic, depth charged and sank U-546.

After hostilities with Germany ended, Pillshury and Pope (DE-134) escorted the first surrendered Nazi U-boat, U-858, from mid-Atlantic to Cape May, N.J., after placing a prize crew aboard.

In 1947, Pillsbury was placed out of commission, in reserve, in the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

In June 1954 the vessel was moved to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, fitted out with the latest equipment, redesignated a radar picket ship, DER-133, in August 1954 and recommissioned 15 March 1955. After refresher training and shakedown Pillsbury sailed for Newport, R.I. to assume her duties as a radar guardship acting as an element of the protective radar screens around the United States. During 1958 Pillsbury made seven picket patrols on the Atlantic Barrier five trips to Argentia, Newfoundland, and one trip to Summerside, Prince Edward Island. She decommissioned 20 June 1960; was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 1 July 1965; and was sold for scrapping to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md. in 1966.

Pillsbury received five battle stars for World War II service.

Holding the Line on the High Seas: Allied Destroyer Escorts in World War II

The place of destroyer escorts goes far beyond the Battle of the Atlantic.

Here's What You Need to Know: The destroyer escort ran the gauntlet against Axis forces around the world.

Through the first half of World War II, Allied shipping losses to German U-boats climbed steadily from over 400,000 tons in the last four months of 1939 to more than two million tons each in 1940 and 1941, before reaching a staggering 6,266,215 tons in 1942 following the entry of the United States into the war. The success of the Kreigsmarine’s submarine fleet against Britain in particular made the defeat of the U-boats a prime objective of Allied planners. Throughout the war vast resources were committed to achieve it.

The Birth of the Destroyer Escort

The rising toll of the U-boats and the shortage of purpose-built convoy escort vessels in the British Royal Navy during the war’s first year gave birth to the concept of the destroyer escort or “DE”—a U.S.-built warship type that was destined to become a mainstay of Allied convoy defense by the second half of World War II.

Smaller, slower, and less heavily armed than destroyers, DEs nevertheless had ample antisubmarine capabilities. The 1941 British Admiralty specification used in the design by the firm of Gibbs and Cox specified stowage for 112 depth charges, a state-of-the-art, forward-firing hedgehog antisubmarine projector, and dual-purpose main armament effective against both surface and air targets. Above all, the DEs were designed to be mass produced quickly and cheaply.

The First Destroyer Escorts

The first of some 563 DEs constructed during World War II were laid down using Lend-Lease funds at the U.S. naval shipyard, Mare Island, California. The first four went to Britain’s Royal Navy, while the fifth was commissioned into the U.S. Navy as USS Evarts (DE-5). Ultimately, 97 Evarts-class DEs were built with a third of them serving in the Royal Navy where they were known as the “Captain”-class escort ships.

U.S. Navy destroyer escorts were named for deceased naval heroes, and many American sailors who gave their lives in the first years of the war would be so honored. Depending on their class and mission, DEs were manned by 180 to 220 officers and men.

Evarts-class DEs were 289 feet, 5 inches long, with a beam of 35 feet, and an overall displacement of 1,360 tons fully loaded. Their original armament consisted of three 3-inch 50-caliber (3″/50) dual-purpose guns, a quad 1.1-inch antiaircraft mount, and nine 20mm single mount antiaircraft guns. For antisubmarine work, two depth charge racks were located aft, eight K-gun depth charge throwers were located amidships port and starboard, and a hedgehog projector was mounted forward of the bridge between the No. 1 and No. 2 3″/50s. For main propulsion, Evarts-class DEs were equipped with four General Motors diesel-electric generators that supplied power for the propulsion motors—a system known as GMT or General Motors Tandem drive. So powered, the twin-screw Evarts-class ships were capable of 20 knots.

Evolution of the Design

By 1943, improvements in basic design and armament were on the way. For Buckley-class DEs, which soon followed in production, overall length was increased to 306 feet, and armament was beefed up to include a three-tube battery of 21-inch torpedoes placed amidships. Steam-driven, Buckley-class DEs were equipped with Foster-Wheeler boilers and General Electric geared turbo-generators, whose 12,000 shaft horsepower gave them a top speed of more than 23 knots. A second rudder improved steering and tightened their turning radius by 25 percent—a highly useful characteristic for hunting submarines. Fully loaded displacement on Buckley-class DEs increased to 1,720 tons from the smaller short-hulled Evarts class.

The four subsequent classes of DEs after the Buckley class retained the 306-foot overall length, though variations in main propulsion were dictated by shipyard capability and engine supplies. The 1,520-ton Cannon-class DEs were powered by General Motors diesel-electric drives identical to the main propulsion in the Evarts class, while those of the 1,490-ton Edsall class received Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines of the same type that powered the electric generators on many U.S. fleet-type submarines, directly coupled to the screws. Rudderow class ships displaced 1,811 tons fully loaded and, like the Buckleys, were steam-driven turbo-electric ships. Those of the 2,100-ton John C. Butler class received Westinghouse geared steam turbines and were capable of almost 30 knots. Unlike earlier designs, the Butlers and Rudderows received 5-inch 38-caliber (5″/38) enclosed gun mounts as main armament and destroyer-style enclosed bridges, as opposed to the tall open bridge of the original British design.

From the outset, DEs were fitted with electronic gear that made them effective at finding submarines, including sonar for hunting submerged U-boats and radar for picking them up on the surface. Some DEs also received high-frequency radio direction finding equipment (known as HFDF or “huffduff”), which allowed them to home in on radio signals sent by U-boats at sea.

Some 16 U.S. shipyards produced destroyer escorts during World War II. By 1944, DEs were operating in such quantity that they formed the backbone of antisubmarine defense in the Atlantic, where they not only protected convoys of merchant ships and troop transports, but also operated with escort aircraft carriers in highly effective hunter-killer groups that sought out and destroyed U-boats before they could strike.

Combat Experience

Among the most successful of these was the Edsall-class USS Pillsbury (DE-133), which, as part of a hunter-killer group led by the escort carrier USS Guadalcanal (CVE 60), depth-charged U-515 to the surface on April 8, 1944, then in company with her sister ship, USS Flaherty (DE-135), destroyed the sub in a gun battle. Some two months later, on June 4, 1944, the Pillsbury forced U-505 to the surface off the Cape Verde Islands. Her crew then boarded and captured the sub, furnishing the Allies with an invaluable intelligence coup. Awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for bagging U-505, Pillsbury’s exploits were far from over. On April 24, 1945, while operating in the North Atlantic, she depth charged and sank U-546.

Four U.S. destroyer escorts were lost to U-boats, including the USS Leopold (DE-319), one of 30 DEs manned by the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. The Buckley-class USS Donnell (DE-56) was torpedoed by a U-boat off the British Isles while defending a convoy on May 3, 1944. Twenty-nine of Donnell’s crewmen were killed, but damage control measures saved her from sinking, although the damage proved too extensive for her to return to escort duty. In August 1944, however, the Donnell was towed across the English Channel and tied up at war-torn Cherbourg, where her still serviceable power plant was used to make electricity. The USS Holder (DE-401), was eventually scrapped after being seriously damaged in an April 1944 air attack off Algeria, and the USS Rich (DE-695) sank after hitting a mine off Normandy on June 8, 1944. Britain’s Royal Navy lost eight of the 78 DEs it acquired from the United States.

In the Pacific, DEs served with distinction as antisubmarine vessels and also carried out other tasks, including shore bombardment, radar picket, and troop carrying after being converted to fast-attack transports (APD).

Among the most famous DEs of the Pacific War was the Buckley-class USS England (DE-635), which, in just 12 days during May 1944, hunted down and sank five Japanese submarines and assisted in the destruction of a sixth. For this unequaled feat, the ship received a Presidential Unit Citation, prompting the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Ernest J. King, to remark, “There’ll always be an England in the United States Navy.” The following spring, however, England’s combat exploits came to an end when a Japanese kamikaze slammed into her side, killing 37 of her crew and forcing her to steam to the U.S. for repairs.

DEs in the Battle of Leyte Gulf

Some DEs in the Pacific were involved in actions for which they had never been designed, such as engaging major enemy surface ships. Off Samar on October 25, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, four DEs were involved in the defense of a group of escort carriers that were caught by surprise and attacked by a powerful Japanese surface fleet under Admiral Takeo Kurita. When Kurita’s force of four battleships and some 19 cruisers and destroyers engaged six lightly protected escort carriers, the DEs John C. Butler (DE-339), Raymond (DE-341), Dennis (DE-405), and Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) joined the three fleet destroyers assigned to their task unit, code-named Taffy 3, and charged the Japanese armada in a desperate defense.


This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Edsall Class Destroyer Escort
    Keel Laid 18 July 1942 - Launched and Christened 10 January 1943

Naval Covers

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This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
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Postmark Type
Killer Bar Text

1st Commissioning 7 June 1943 to 31 March 1946

Cachet by Tazewell G. Nicholson. From the Bob Govern collection.

2nd Commissioning 15 March 1955 to 20 June 1960

"THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NAVY IS INCREASING" R/S marking on the stamp was created by the mail clerk and is not a official Naval postmark.

Other Information

USS PILLSBURY earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, the American Campaign Medal, the European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal w/ 5 Battle stars and the World War II Victory Medal during her Naval career.

NAMESAKE - Rear Admiral John Elliott Pillsbury, USN (15 December 1846 - 30 December 1919).
        Pillsbury, born in Lowell, MA was appointed Midshipman in 1862 and commissioned an Ensign in 1868. After serving on various stations afloat and ashore, he commanded the coast steamer USS Blake from 1884 to 1891 and did excellent scientific work, using in some of his research instruments of his own invention. In the Spanish-American War he commanded the dynamite cruiser USS Vesuvius, operating around the island of Cuba and in the vicinity of Morro Castle. In 1905 he served as Chief of Staff of the North Atlantic Fleet and in 1908-09, was Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. Although Rear Admiral Pillsbury’s attainments as a sailor and a fighting man were noteworthy, he is perhaps best known as having been one of the world’s foremost geographers and as an authority of the Gulf stream. Actively identified with the National Geographic Society for many years, he was president of the society at the time of his death in 1919.

The ships sponsor was Mrs. Elsie G. Richardson, daughter of RAdm. Pillsbury.

Two ships of the US Navy have been named in his honor - USS Pillsbury DD-227 and USS Pillsbury DER-133.

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Pillsbury II DE-133 - History

Deployed to the Far East in 1922, Pillsbury served thereafter with the Asiatic Fleet in Destroyer Division 59 (with Pope, DD 225, Peary, DD 226, and John D. Ford, DD 228, one of Destroyer Squadron 29&rsquos three divisions.

In late 1941, following a collision with Peary, the two ships entered Cavite Navy Yard for repair and overhaul. Work concentrated on Pillsbury, the less-damaged ship, and was approaching completion on 8 December when news arrived that war with Japan had been declared.

On the afternoon of the 10th, a flight of Japanese high-level bombers attacked, devastating the yard. As Pillsbury backed clear without damage, one bomb hit Peary, which was towed clear by Whippoorwill (AM 35). Pillsbury joined in fighting her fires and transferring wounded to nearby Cañacao Hospital.

On 17 December, as the Japanese secured footholds on Luzon and Mindanao and air raids became an almost-daily event, most seaworthy ships at Cavite were released to sail south to safety, Pillsbury and Peary requested permission to join them but instead were formed with PT boats into striking forces under the direction of RAdm. Francis W. Rockwell. Two torpedo mounts were landed from each destroyer and Pillsbury made two round-trip runs to Mindoro.

On Christmas Day, Adm. Hart learned that Gen. MacArthur had declared Manila an open city, making Cavite untenable. Refueling at Sangley Point, Pillsbury and Peary watched facilities being blown up as rumor spread that the two destroyers were to be scuttled.

Off Corregidor, 26 December, after they were again attacked by air, RAdm. Rockwell granted permission to put to sea. Pillsbury took departure and, on the 28th, completed an uneventful trip Balikpapan. There, together with other United States, Dutch and Australian naval vessels, she operated on reconnaissance sorties and anti-submarine patrols before moving to Soerabaja, Java, There, she made night patrols with cruisers Houston (CA 30) and Marblehead (CL 12) and destroyers of Division 58, including an action in Badoeng Strait 4 February 1942.

On 18 February, the Japanese began swarming ashore on Bali and Allied surface forces including Pillsbury set out to disrupt further landings from a Japanese convoy reported in the area. While steaming through Badoeng Strait on the night of 19&ndash20 February, Pillsbury fired three torpedoes at a Japanese ship without result. A searchlight was trained on Pillsbury, and several shots were fired at her. She turned to starboard and make smoke to escape the light. The relatively small Allied forces at this time were forced to lightning strikes and rapid evasive retirement in the face of superior Japanese forces in the dim hope of disrupting the enemy advance.

At 0210 Pillsbury sighted a ship dead ahead and opened up with her main battery and .50 calibre guns. The amidships gun crew of the Japanese ship was put out of action by the first burst of the .50 calibre machine guns. The target ship then received a direct hit with a shell from either Pillsbury or from the destroyer in the opposite column. This caused the Japanese destroyer to swing to starboard. The spotter then observed three sure hits from Pillsbury: one on the bridge, one amidships and one on the fantail. As soon as the last shot hit, the Japanese ship erupted in flames, and her firing ceased.

At this time Pillsbury and Parrott (DD 218) were detached from the striking force and sent to Tjilatjap. After the action around Bali the ships had few torpedoes and were sadly in need of overhaul.

A few days later, Pillsbury met her end. There are no logs or battle reports giving the details of the action in which Pillsbury, Asheville (PG 21) and Edsall (DD 219) were sunk between the 1st and 4th of March 1942. A powerful force of Japanese ships was operating to the south of Java to prevent the escape of Allied ships from that area. The Japanese force consisted of four battleships, five cruisers, aircraft carrier Soryu and the destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 4.

Interrogation of officers of the Japanese Task Forces at the time garnered the following information. In a night surface action, Pillsbury and Asheville were sunk by &ldquoteamwork&rdquo firing of three cruisers of Cruiser Division 4 and two destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 4 in Bali Strait, Netherlands East Indies. Edsall was sunk by gunfire of four battleships of the 3d Battleship Squadron, two cruisers of Cruiser Division 8 and two bombers from Soryu.


Number One General Mills Boulevard
Post Office Box 1113
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55440


Public Company
Incorporated: 1928
Employees: 10,660
Sales: $6.25 billion (1999)
Stock Exchanges: New York Midwest
Ticker Symbol: GIS
NAIC: 311211 Flour Milling 311230 Breakfast Cereal Manufacturing 311340 Nonchocolate Confectionery Manufacturing 311423 Dried and Dehydrated Food Manufacturing 311511 Fluid Milk Manufacturing 311822 Flour Mixes and Dough Manufacturing from Purchased Flour 311919 Other Snack Food Manufacturing 311999 All Other Miscellaneous Food Manufacturing

Company Perspectives:

Consumers choose General Mills because we offer competitively superior products and services. Employees choose General Mills because we reward innovation and superior performance and release their power to lead. Investors choose General Mills because we consistently deliver financial results in the top 10 percent of all major companies.

Key Dates:

1866: Cadwallader Washburn, owner of Minneapolis Milling Company, opens the first flour mill in Minneapolis.
1877: John Crosby enters into partnership with Washburn, whose company is then renamed Washburn Crosby Company.
1880: Company wins gold medal at the first International Millers' Exhibition, leading to the later creation of the Gold Medal brand.
1888: James S. Bell takes over leadership of Washburn Crosby.
1921: The fictional Betty Crocker is created by Washburn Crosby.
1924: Wheaties ready-to-eat cereal debuts.
1928: Bell's son, James Ford, leads the creation of General Mills through the merger of Washburn Crosby with several other regional millers.
1931: Bisquick, the first baking mix, is introduced.
1941: Cheerioats ready-to-eat cereal debuts.
1946: Cheerioats is renamed Cheerios.
1947: The first Betty Crocker cake mix is introduced.
1954: Trix, a presweetened cereal, hits the market.
1961: Edwin W. Rawlings is appointed president and ushers in a period of wide diversification.
1964: Company enters the snack food sector with the purchase of Morton Foods.
1968: Company acquires Gorton's frozen seafood and several toy and game outfits--Rainbow Crafts, Kenner, and Parker Bros.
1969: Company moves into specialty retailing with purchases of Lacoste clothing and Monet Jewelry.
1970: Red Lobster restaurant chain is acquired Hamburger Helper makes its debut.
1971: Eddie Bauer is purchased.
1973: Talbot's is acquired.
1977: Company purchases the U.S. rights to the Yoplait yogurt brand.
1983: The Olive Garden Italian restaurant chain is launched.
1985: Company divests its toy, fashion, and nonapparel retailing operations Pop Secret microwave popcorn is introduced.
1989: Eddie Bauer and Talbot's are sold Cereal Partners Worldwide, a joint venture with Nestlé S.A., is formed.
1992: Company establishes Snack Ventures Europe in partnership with PepsiCo, Inc.
1995: The Gorton's brand is sold to Unilever the restaurant division is spun off to shareholders as a separate public company, Darden Restaurants, Inc.
1997: The branded ready-to-eat cereal and snack mix businesses of Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. are acquired, including the Chex brand.
1999: Lloyd's Barbecue Company, Farmhouse Foods Company, and Gardetto's Bakery, Inc. are acquired.

General Mills, Inc. is one of the leading breakfast cereal companies in the world, with such well-known brands as Cheerios, Chex, Cocoa Puffs, Kix, Total, Trix, and Wheaties stocking the shelves of supermarkets everywhere. In addition to its breakfast cereal products, the company includes some of the best names in other food lines such as Gold Medal flour, Bisquick baking mixes, Betty Crocker dessert mixes, Hamburger Helper dinner mixes, Yoplait yogurt, Pop Secret microwave popcorn, and Nature Valley granola bars. General Mills markets its products in more than 90 countries worldwide, with much of this activity stemming from two joint ventures: a 50--50 enterprise with Nestlé S.A. called Cereal Partners Worldwide, which makes and sells ready-to-eat cereals outside North America and Snack Ventures Europe, a venture with PepsiCo, Inc. 40.5 percent owned by General Mills, which makes and markets snack foods in continental Europe. General Mills is also active outside the grocery sector through its foodservice unit, which markets products under the company's various brands to educational, hospitality, and healthcare institutions, convenience stores, and vending machine operators.

General Mills was incorporated in 1928, but its origins go back to 1866, when Cadwallader Washburn opened the first flour mill in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His business, originally called the Minneapolis Milling Company, competed with local miller C.A. Pillsbury. In 1869 they joined forces to form the Minneapolis Millers Association. Pillsbury and Washburn both wanted to find a way to make Midwestern winter wheat into a higher grade of flour. Eventually, with the help of a French engineer, Washburn not only improved the method but also made his product the best flour available in the United States. When Pillsbury adopted the same technique, Minneapolis became the country's flour milling center.

When John Crosby entered into partnership with Washburn in 1877, the Minneapolis Milling Company was renamed Washburn Crosby Company. The following year the Minneapolis Millers Association was reorganized to appease farmers who found its business practices unfair. In 1880 Washburn Crosby flours were awarded the gold, silver, and bronze medals at the first International Miller's Exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio the company soon changed the name of its best flour to Gold Medal. In 1888, James S. Bell succeeded Washburn as head of the Washburn Crosby Company, ousting Washburn's heirs. The mill prospered through the turn of the century. In 1928, the year General Mills was formed, the company had 5,800 employees and annual sales of $123 million. Its strongest products were Gold Medal flour, Softasilk cake flour (introduced in 1923), and Wheaties, a ready-to-eat cereal that had debuted in 1924.

Bell's son, James Ford, was responsible for creating General Mills, Inc. in 1928 by consolidating the Washburn mill with several other major flour-milling companies around the country, including Red Star Milling Co., Sperry Milling Co., and Larrowe Milling Co. Within five months Ford had collected 27 companies, making General Mills the largest flour-milling company in the world. As a part of General Mills, these mills kept their operational independence but left advertising and product development to General Mills headquarters. This consolidation was well timed, as it gave the company the strength to survive and even prosper through the Great Depression, when earnings grew steadily and stock in the company was stable.

Bell's research emphasis put General Mills in a strong position for the changing demands of increasingly urban consumers. The company soon introduced Bisquick, the first baking mix, which debuted in 1931 the company's first ready-to-eat puffed cereal, Kix, in 1937 and another ready-to-eat cereal, Cheerioats, in 1941. Cheerioats was renamed Cheerios five years after its introduction under its new name it eventually would become the number one cereal in the United States.

Bell's early interest in diversification and technology made mobilization for World War II easier. General Mills' factories were restructured to produce equipment for the navy, medicinal alcohol, and bags to make into sandbags, as well as the expected dehydrated food. In 1942 Donald D. Davis, president of General Mills since Bell moved to chairman in 1934, resigned to head the U.S. War Production Board.

Henry Bullis, who began at General Mills as a mill hand after World War I, replaced Davis. Following Bell's industrial lead, Bullis immediately entered the animal feed industry by processing soybeans, a venture that ultimately became General Mills' chemical division.

Postwar demand for consumer foods allowed the company to deemphasize industrial activity and to concentrate on the success of its cereals and Betty Crocker cake mixes--the latter having been launched in 1947. Consumers demanded less time in the kitchen and continued to buy foods that required less preparation. Ready-to-eat cereals, now the company's staple, grew dramatically, and more brands were introduced, including Trix, a presweetened cereal that hit the market in 1954.

Throughout the 1920s Bell and his associates had invested heavily in advertising, which was becoming a significant force in selling products to a national market. Betty Crocker, created in 1921, was a legacy from Washburn Crosby. By 1928 Betty Crocker's name, signature, and radio voice had been introduced in connection with General Mills' consumer goods. General Mills also sponsored radio programs and pioneered the use of athlete endorsements on its own radio station, WCCO. In 1933 the advertising slogan 'Wheaties. The Breakfast of Champions' was used for the first time. The Wheaties brand sponsored the first commercial sports broadcast on television, a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds on August 29, 1939, which was presented by NBC and featured the sportscasting of the famed Red Barber.

The postwar consumer's interest in convenience complemented General Mills' growing advertising efforts. The company continued to refine its advertising methods after World War II, and such promotions as the Betty Crocker Cookbook and advertisements on TV, an exciting new medium at the time, helped to increase sales and consumer recognition of the company. Capitalizing on its research and media prominence, the company soon held the second position in breakfast food sales.

Another career General Mills man, Charles H. Bell, rose to the presidency in 1952. Since advertising had become the main force in marketing its various brands, centralization had crept into the organization. Bell found it necessary to reassign management decisions closer to operations. In 1958 he moved headquarters out of downtown Minneapolis and into suburban Golden Valley. Still stronger changes were needed, but the company was hesitant. General Mills' 1940s ventures into electronics and appliances had failed, and the company had recently begun to post losses in animal feeds and flour milling. Consumer foods remained the main moneymaker, but General Mills' stock value dropped to $1.25 a share in 1962, its lowest point in 12 years.

Diversifying Widely in the 1960s

Bell recruited an outsider, Edwin W. Rawlings, in 1959, and two years later Rawlings was appointed president. Rawlings reevaluated company output and shook up management positions. The family flour market was declining three percent a year, and Rawlings decided consumer preferences had shifted once again. Although the company was then the largest flour miller in the world and flour made up the greatest volume of output, Rawlings closed half of General Mills' mills and renewed the company's commitment to packaged foods by introducing foodservice products for restaurants and hotels. He also divested its interests in electronics, appliances, formula feeds, and other smaller operations. These actions caused a short-term, five-year sales decline for the company.

Next Rawlings began a series of acquisitions that would alter corporate structure for the next 20 years and provide two decades of continual earnings growth. Snack foods entered the company's portfolio with the purchase of Morton Foods, Inc. in 1964. In 1966 came the Tom Huston Peanut Co., and in 1968 General Mills went abroad with the purchase of Smiths Food Group, Ltd. of England and Belgium. The French Biscuiterie Nantaise soon followed, as did snack food companies in Latin America and Japan.

Other major acquisitions were Gorton's, a frozen fish company, and an aggressive move into the toy and game industry with Rainbow Crafts (Play-Doh), Kenner, and Parker Bros., all in 1968. In ten years international toy operations would comprise one-third of the company's sales, at $482.3 million. General Mills was no longer the world's largest miller, but it was now the world's largest toy manufacturer.

Early in 1969 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consent order blocking General Mills from further acquisitions within the snack food industry. At the time of purchase, both Morton and Tom Huston were among the top ten producers of potato and corn chips.

During his seven years as General Mills chief, Rawlings managed to double the company's earnings and bring consumer foods to 80 percent of total sales, up from 45 percent. Although Rawlings wanted another outsider to succeed him, the board of directors chose James P. McFarland in 1969. General Mills was the only company for which McFarland had ever worked, and in choosing him the corporation renewed its commitment to balance and stability.

Adding Specialty Retailing and Restaurants in the 1970s

Seeking controlled growth, McFarland slowed, but did not stop, acquisitions. The first of many clothing company purchases was David Crystal, Inc. (Lacoste clothing) in 1969. Along with the purchase of Monet Jewelry in the same year, the purchase introduced General Mills to specialty retailing the company later bought Eddie Bauer, Inc. (in 1971) and Talbot's (1973). Although the company missed the growth of fast food, purchasing and developing the Red Lobster restaurant chain (in 1970) would eventually make the new restaurant group General Mills' second largest division. Meantime, Hamburger Helper was introduced in 1970.

McFarland, an experienced salesman, involved himself with day-to-day operations and left long-term planning to COO James A. Summer. In his first two years as CEO, McFarland saw sales rise from $885 million to $1.1 billion and operating profits from $37.5 million to $44 million. His goal was to reach $2 billion in sales by 1976. Sales that year were actually $2.6 billion, four times the 1969 level, with earnings of more than $100 million. He then announced E. Robert Kinney as his successor.

Like most quickly expanding companies of this period, however, not all of General Mills' forays were successful. Between 1950 and 1986, General Mills made 86 acquisitions in new industries 73 percent of those made by 1975 had been divested within five years. A profitable core business in consumer foods eased the burden of these failed efforts.

In the early 1970s the FTC attempted to dismiss General Mills' 1968 acquisition of Gorton's. The block was lifted in 1973. Later, by allying itself with General Foods Corp., the firm succeeded in blocking a 1977 FTC proposal to forbid advertisements aimed at children. Late in 1980, the FTC again filed a complaint against cereal companies, this time an antitrust suit following a ten-year investigation. It charged that between 1958 and 1972 cereal manufacturers had an average after-tax profit of 19.8 percent, compared with a general manufacturing average of 8.9 percent, and suggested that Kellogg Company, General Mills, and General Foods shared a monopoly over the cereal industry. The charges were dismissed in 1981 after the companies had lobbied for and won congressional favor.

By heavily promoting its brands, the company did well in the 1970s, reporting gains in the toy division and the tripling of sales for consumer foods. Between 1973 and 1978, sales increased $1.7 billion. Of this growth, 41 percent came from new products developed internally, 15 percent from acquisitions, and 18 percent from expansion of restaurant and retail centers. General Mills' management system, in which one manager directed the production, marketing, and sales of each brand, also got credit for some of the increase. After the 1977 sale of the chemical division, General Mills divided its business into food processing, restaurants, games and toys, fashion, and specialty retailing. The food sector was bolstered in 1977 when the company purchased the U.S. rights to the Yoplait yogurt brand.

Refocusing on Food in the 1980s

In 1981 H. Brewster Atwater, Jr., became president of General Mills. The following year was a solid one for the company, as consumer foods, restaurants, toys, fashion, and retailing reported sales increases of between 12 percent and 24 percent. Retailing profit was half that of its previous year, however, and although the toy and game division had grown, the toy industry worldwide had decreased 2.9 percent.

Izod Lacoste also performed well. With $400 million in sales, General Mills intended to develop more items under the label. But by 1985 sales had dropped to $225 million, and the company hoped to cut overhead to break even at $180 million by 1986. In 1985 the largest toymaker in the world divested items representing more than 25 percent of its sales, including toys, fashion, and nonapparel retailing. Former president Kinney became head of the spun-off Kenner Parker Toys Inc. The other spinoff, called the Fashion Co., consisted of Monet Jewelry, Izod Lacoste, and Ship 'n Shore. The company kept its furniture group (Pennsylvania House, Kittinger) for future sale. Also kept was Eddie Bauer, despite its reported loss because of excess inventory. General Mills reported a net loss of $72 million due to the restructuring and a 21 percent increase in advertising expenses.

As expected by analysts, General Mills quickly recovered. Earnings were up to $222 million by 1987. Its core businesses were the Big G cereals, Red Lobster, and Talbot's in its consumer foods, restaurants, and specialty retailing divisions. The food division had expanded in 1985 with the introduction of Pop Secret, a microwave popcorn product.

The consolidation process begun in 1985 continued in the latter half of the 1980s. Pared down somewhat, the company originally planned to expand its remaining retailing operations. But the takeover climate of the late 1980s and a disappointing Christmas in 1987 forced the company to exit retailing altogether by selling Eddie Bauer and Talbot's in 1989.

General Mills had divested itself of many of its holdings since 1976, but its surviving businesses had a firm footing in their markets. More than 90 percent of the company's food sales came from products with a first or second place market share position. Streamlining also had allowed the company to keep up with the rapid pace of new product development. From 1985 to 1988, 24 percent to 29 percent of the food division's growth came from new products.

General Mills also increased its share in the fast-growing cereal market, boosted by the oat bran craze of the late 1980s (Cheerios' market share alone climbed 3.1 percent in one year) and the accompanying breakfast food boom. General Mills was the only top cereal producer prepared to respond to these trends.

1990s: Venturing Overseas, Exiting from Restaurateuring, Adding Chex

In 1989 General Mills began to expand into international markets, a sector that archrival Kellogg had been exploiting for years. By forming Cereal Partners Worldwide with Nestlé S.A., the Swiss-based food products giant, General Mills planned to cut into the European cereal market long dominated by Kellogg. By 1991 the partnership was doing so well in Europe that it ventured into the Mexican market. In 1992 General Mills established Snack Ventures Europe, a $600 million partnership with PepsiCo, Inc., to take advantage of the growing market for snack foods in Europe.

After the growth in market share during the late 1980s and early 1990s, by 1993 General Mills experienced a slowdown in its core business of brand name cereal and food products. Nevertheless, in an unprecedented move, the company hired approximately 10,000 new employees during the same year. The reason for this was the growth of the restaurant division. Having already acquired the Red Lobster seafood chain in 1970, General Mills attempted other formats that did not work, including steakhouses and Mexican and health food eateries. In 1983 the company came up with its own Italian restaurant chain called Olive Garden Italian Restaurants and in 1991 launched China Coast, an attempt to fill the void in Chinese food restaurant chains. At the end of 1993, there were 657 Red Lobster and 429 Olive Garden restaurants located throughout the United States, and nine China Coast units in Orlando, Indianapolis, and Fort Worth. With restaurant profits increasing rapidly, General Mills planned to open 100 new locations annually for the next two or three years.

During 1993, in a widely publicized decision amid growing consumer complaints, General Mills decided not to increase its cereal prices to keep pace with Kellogg. Kellogg implemented a 2.1 percent increase on all of its brand name cereals, but General Mills had previously hiked prices nearly 28 percent between 1988 and 1992. As a result, General Mills actually cut prices from 11 to 16 percent on three of its most well-known brands. This discounting strategy increased volume sales on all three of the cereal brands.

General Mills reaped more than $8 billion in sales during 1993, with the company's packaged goods accounting for two-thirds of its revenues and the restaurant division making up the remaining amount. With the highest return on equity of any company in the entire industry for the previous five years--an impressive 42.8 percent compared with the industry median of 17 percent--management was confident enough to predict an average growth in profits of 14 percent annually through 2000.

In 1995 General Mills completed its transformation back into a strictly packaged foods company. In May of that year the company sold the Gorton's brand to Unilever and spun off its restaurant division to its shareholders as a separate public company, Darden Restaurants, Inc. As a result, General Mills saw its 1995 revenues reduced by more than $3.5 billion, compared with 1994, but the company emerged with an increased focus and greater profitability. Upon the completion of these moves, Atwater retired, having led the dismantling of a conglomerate. Taking over as chairman and CEO was Stephen W. Sanger, a 21-year company veteran with a marketing background.

In September 1995 General Mills launched Frosted Cheerios, a sugar-frosted version of the company's flagship cereal. Frosted Cheerios went on to become one of the most successful new cereals in history, capturing 1.5 percent of the market in its first year. In addition to developing successful new products, General Mills also returned to the acquisition arena, but in a core area rather than a new one. In January 1997 the company made its largest purchase in history when it spent $570 million for the branded ready-to-eat cereal and snack mix businesses of Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. The brands gained included Chex and Cookie Crisp cereals and Chex Mix snacks. General Mills thereby solidified its number two position in the U.S. ready-to-eat cereal market (behind Kellogg), increasing its share to about 26 percent. Meanwhile, to mark the 75th anniversary of Betty Crocker, a new portrait of the icon was created based on a computer composite.

By 1999 General Mills was neck and neck with Kellogg in the U.S. cereal sector, claiming 31.6 percent of U.S. cereal sales, to Kellogg's 31.7 percent. General Mills had gained on the industry leader through its consistent rollout of successful new products, its ability to maintain the highest price per box average among the leading cereal makers ($3.30, compared with Kellogg's $2.91), and the more distinctive nature of its cereals, such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which were less likely to be successfully challenged by generic cereals than such easier-to-copy Kellogg brands as Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran. At the same time, General Mills was moving forward on other fronts. Focusing on convenience foods, the company in 1999 introduced a 12-item line of Betty Crocker rice and pasta mixes, a new Chicken Helper dinner mix line, and Yoplait Go-Gurt, a line of yogurt packaged in a squeeze-and-eat tube that eliminated the need for a spoon. Also debuting was a new Colombo yogurt package that featured a spoon built right into the lid. General Mills added to its product lines in 1999 through several modest acquisitions. In January the company acquired St. Paul, Minnesota-based Lloyd's Barbeque Company, a maker of refrigerated, microwave-ready entrees. The following month saw the purchase of Union City, California-based Farmhouse Foods Company, seller of rice and pasta side dish mixes. In August General Mills bought Milwaukee-based Gardetto's Bakery, Inc., maker of baked snack mixes and flavored pretzels. Early in 2000 the company acquired Small Planet Foods, a maker of organic food products under the Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen brands. This move was part of General Mills' entry into the burgeoning natural foods sector and came around the same time that the company introduced Sunrise organic cereal.

In early 2000 Sanger announced a series of long-term goals for the first decade of the 21st century. The company aimed to achieve seven to eight percent compound annual sales growth, to generate $500 million in pretax cost savings through productivity enhancements, and to sustain double-digit earnings per share growth. By meeting or exceeding these goals, General Mills would likely be able to remain independent in a food industry that was coming under increasing pressure to consolidate.

Principal Subsidiaries: Colombo, Inc. C.P.A. Cereal Partners Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H. (Austria 50%) C.P.D. Cereal Partners Deutschland Verwaltungsgesellschaft m.b.H (Germany 50%) CPW Mexico S.A. de C.V. (50%) CPW S.A. (Switzerland 50%) CPW-CI Limited (Cayman Islands 50%) FYL Corp. General Mills (BVI) Ltd. (British Virgin Islands) General Mills Continental, Inc. General Mills Direct Marketing, Inc. General Mills Europe Limited (U.K.) General Mills Finance, Inc. General Mills France S.A. General Mills Holding B.V. (Netherlands) General Mills International Limited General Mills Maarssen B.V. (Netherlands) General Mills Mauritius, Inc. General Mills Missouri, Inc. General Mills Operations, Inc. General Mills Products Corp. General Mills Services, Inc. Gold Medal Insurance Co. Lloyd's Food Products, Inc. Mills Media, Inc. Nestlé Asean Philippines, Inc. (30%) Popcorn Distributors, Inc. Torun-Pacific Sp. Z o.o. (Poland 50%) Yoplait USA, Inc.

Principal Competitors: Aurora Foods Inc. Bestfoods Borden, Inc. Campbell Soup Company ConAgra, Inc. Groupe Danone Diageo plc Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation H.J. Heinz Company International Home Foods, Inc. Kellogg Company Malt-O-Meal Company Mars, Inc. McKee Foods Corporation Nabisco Holdings Corp. PepsiCo, Inc. Philip Morris Companies Inc. The Pillsbury Company The Procter & Gamble Company The Quaker Oats Company Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. Unilever.

Beam, Alex, and Judith H. Dobrzynski, 'General Mills: Toys Just Aren't Us,' Business Week, September 16, 1985, pp. 106&plus.
Burns, Greg, 'Has General Mills Had Its Wheaties?,' Business Week, May 8, 1995, pp. 68--69.
Dubashi, Jugannath, 'Bon Appetit: General Mills Wants to Change the Breakfast Habits of Continentals,' Financial World, July 23, 1991, pp. 40&plus.
Gibson, Richard, 'For General Mills, Cereal Will Be Main Course Again,' Wall Street Journal, December 16, 1994, p. B3.
------, 'General Mills Gets in Shape for Turnaround,' Wall Street Journal, September 26, 1995, p. B1.
------, 'General Mills to Buy Ralcorp's Chex, Other Branded Cereals for $570 Million,' Wall Street Journal, August 15, 1996, p. B8.
------, 'General Mills to Spin Off Restaurants in Effort to Focus on Its Core Business,' Wall Street Journal, December 15, 1994, p. A3.
Gray, James, Business Without Boundary: The Story of General Mills, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1954.
Helliker, Kevin, 'A New Mix: Old-Fashioned PR Gives General Mills Advertising Bargains,' Wall Street Journal, March 20, 1997, p. A1.
Houston, Patrick, and Rebecca Aikman, 'General Mills Still Needs Its Wheaties,' Business Week, December 23, 1985, pp. 77&plus.
Kennedy, Tony, 'The General Mills Spinoff,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 15, 1995, p. 1D.
Knowlton, Christopher, 'Europe Cooks Up a Cereal Brawl,' Fortune, June 3, 1991, pp. 175--78.
'Long-Term Vision,' Forbes, January 3, 1994.
Merrill, Ann, 'Hungry for Productivity: At a Time of Slow Growth in the Cereal Industry, General Mills Has Promised Double-Digit Earnings Increases,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 7, 2000, p. 1D.
------, 'Is the Cereal Bowl Half Full or . Half Empty?,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 16, 1998, p. 1D.
------, 'A New Kind of Energy: Chairman, CEO of General Mills Earning Himself a Gold Medal,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 22, 1996, p. 1D.
Mehler, Mark, 'Nagging Problems for the Other GM,' Financial World, January 9--22, 1985, pp. 84&plus.
Mitchell, Russell, 'Big G Is Growing Fat on Oat Cuisine,' Business Week, September 18, 1989, p. 29.
'The Other GM,' Financial World, June 15, 1981, pp. 28&plus.
Rawlings, Edwin W., Born to Fly, Minneapolis: Great Way Publishing, 1987.
Rublin, Lauren R., 'Crunch Time: General Mills Hopes to Put the Fiber Back into Its Sales Growth,' Barron's, February 22, 1999, pp. 17--19.
Sellers, Patricia, 'A Boring Brand Can Be Beautiful,' Fortune, November 18, 1991, pp. 169&plus.
Weiner, Steve, and Janis Bultman, 'Calling Betty Crocker,' Forbes, August 8, 1988, pp. 88&plus.
Wojahn, Ellen, Playing by Different Rules, New York: AMACOM, 1988.
Zehnpfennig, Gladys, Harry A. Bullis, Champion American: A Biography of a Business Leader Who Was a Champion of Human Rights, Minneapolis: T.S. Denison, 1964.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories , Vol. 36. St. James Press, 2001.

A History of the Cake Mix, the Invention That Redefined 'Baking'

Before you turn up your nose when your mom offers to bring a box of cake mix to your house the next time she visits, consider the story of how the much-maligned timesaver came to be in the first place.

Though the standard line is that the cake mix was born after World War II and was developed by corporate mills that had too much flour on their hands, it’s really older— it was brought into being at least as early as the 1930s , thanks to a surplus not of flour but of molasses.

We have a Pittsburgh company called P. Duff and Sons to thank. On Dec. 10, 1930, the company’s John D. Duff applied for a patent for an “invention [that] relates to a dehydrated flour for use in making pastry products and to a process of making the same.” In the application, Duff’s mix for gingerbread involved creating a powder of wheat flour, molasses, sugar, shortening, salt, baking soda, powdered whole egg, ginger, and cinnamon that the home cook could rehydrate with water, then bake.

"What it was really about was about using up molasses," says culinary historian Laura Shapiro , author of Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America and queen of cake-mix historians. "People were eating differently, and food and how they made it had changed drastically. So Duff figured out how to dry it and add it to a flour mix."

And the Duff recipe certainly wasn't stingy with the molasses— each batch calls for 100 pounds of wheat flour and 100 pounds of molasses .

"Then they figured out they had a good thing on their hands," Shapiro says.

Indeed, the company seems to have believed it had stumbled on the future of baking, and eventually brought the method it patented to bear on cakes, giving us what appear to be the first cake mixes.

“In the ordinary preparation of pastry products, there are a large and varied number of ingredients which must be used which means keeping a complete stock of materials on hand,” Duff explained in what would become U.S. patent no. 1,931,892 . “This is not only expensive and inconvenient, but necessitates careful measurements and mixing and, therefore, the provision of suitable apparatus therefor. In addition to the above, unsatisfactory results or failure occur too frequently which represent a serious loss of time, of money, of materials and of energy.”

In other words, sometimes the hungry families of the early 1930s just wanted a damn cake on the table.

According to a surviving pamphlet believed to date to 1933 or 1934, Duff’s mixes came in several varieties, some of them not quite cake, like nut bread, bran muffin, and fruit cake. But two flavors would be instantly recognizable to any Duncan Hines devotee—devil’s food and spice cake. The mixes sold for 21 cents per 14-ounce can.

The first Duff baking-mix patent was granted on Oct. 24, 1933, but the Duff company had already been tweaking the formula. On June 13, 1933, the company had informed the U.S. Patent Office that it had made a major breakthrough, arguably the biggest, in cake-mix history—a cake mix that required the home baker to add fresh eggs .

“The housewife and the purchasing public in general seem to prefer fresh eggs and hence the use of dried or powdered eggs is somewhat of a handicap from a psychological standpoint,” Duff wrote in the application.

The date of the patent application (it was granted on Oct. 8, 1935, patent no. 2,016,320 ) is notable because it definitively debunks the most well-known myth about the development of the cake mix —that it took psychologist Ernest Dichter , the man who coined the term “focus group,” to turn around the tepid sales of cakes mixes with his revelation that American women wanted to feel more involved in the cake-baking process, and that cake mixes that required them to add eggs would sell better. Dichter did work with General Mills’ Betty Crocker brand, but that wasn’t till the 1950s. It's a tale even Michael Pollan falls for.

What the urban legend does get right is the fact that cake mixes didn't really take off until after World War II, when the big flour companies, which had spent the war years "revving up" for the postwar market, as Shapiro puts it, got into the cake-mix game once the G.I.s were home. Taking a page from the Duff playbook, the big flour mills figured the best way to move their products was by creating a new demand in a busy modern world. They weren't in the flour-selling business anymore now they were selling convenience.

By the end of the 1940s, more than 200 companies were putting out cake mixes, with the lion's share going to Betty Crocker or Pillsbury. Interestingly, while General Mills and Duncan Hines went the add-eggs route, Pillsbury stubbornly stuck to the just-add-water method and only phased it out later.

"Just add water and two of your own fresh eggs," actress Adelaide Hawley Cumming cooed in character as the fictional Betty Crocker in an early ❐s commercial . "Those eggs keep it moist and tender to the last crumb—not that you'll ever have any crumbs!"

A contemporary survey learned, however, that though people said they were more likely to buy mixes that required eggs, they were actually more likely to buy those that didn't. But eggy or eggless, cake mixes were charging forward into a wide open field of postwar prosperity.

And then they ground to a halt. In the 1950s, sales of cake mix flattened out, companies closed up shop, and executives at those that survived racked their brains to figure out where they were going wrong. Dichter made his appearance, and proclaimed that housewives needed to feel like a more integral part of the creative process.

He was right. But the innovation that saved the cake mix wasn't the egg—it was the icing on the cake .

And not just a layer of white frosting. Box covers, recipes, and home-making magazines showcased elaborate cake constructions that looked like miniature football fields , or European castles, or three-ring circuses. Women pored over pages-long instructions on how to bake their own wedding cakes using basic cake mixes and tubs of frosting.

"There was this faux creativity to make up for fact that you're not actually baking a cake," Shapiro says. "This decorating obsession sold the idea that, this way, you're making this cake yours."

And it didn't hurt that slathering a cake-mix cake with sugary, buttery frosting helped mask the off-putting chemical undertones that still haunted every box.

It worked. By the time the over-the-top cake-decorating fad was over, cake mixes had invaded the average American kitchen, and have been there ever since.

"One of the most dramatic things that ever happened to me was, as a reporter was in the ➐s, finding out that in a survey women always say they bake from scratch—but they meant they used a mix ," Shapiro says. "Cake mixes redefined what ➺king' meant."

So go ahead, brew some coffee, and bake up that angel's food cake Mom brought over. Cut up a slice for her and for yourself. And when you take that first bite, remember that a cake-mix cake isn't just another pastry—it's a piece of American history.

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About Sir Robert Boyd II

Sir Robert was one of the Scottish barons who were forced to swear fealty to Edward I, King of England in 1298. The next year he joined William Wallace and did everything he could to expel the English.

Family History (from Burke's Peerage):

A descent for the Boyd's has been claimed from Simon, Brother of Walter High Steward of Scotland 1160 and ancestor in the male line of the Stuart or Stewart dynasty that ruled first Scotland and then England and Ireland as well. A Sir Robert Boyd was certainly living 1205, and one Robert "the" or "le" Boyd, allegedly grandson of Simon, fought for Alexander III against invading Norsemen at the indecisive Battle of Largs 1263. Another Robert Boyd was one of the first to join William Wallace's rising against the dominant English in the last years of the 13th century, but no link between these and the Boyd's below is proven.

Notes from Sally Walmsley

Sir Robert Boyd II(12..- 1300) was listed in the Ragman Roll in 1296 as swearing fealty to King Edward I of England. However, in the following year he joined Sir William Wallace in his fight to liberate Scotland from Edward I. 'Blind Harry' in his epic poem 'Wallace' wrote in Book III of Sir Robert :-

And Robert Boid quhilk wald no longer hide

Under the thrillage of Segis ofIngland

To that fals King he had nevir made band.

Robert Boyd quhilk was wys and wicht.

Sir Robert distinguished himselt at the battle of Loudoun Hill, where the English army was completely routed on their way to Ayr. 'Blind Harry' wrote (in translation):-

For he (WW) behaved himself so worthily

with Robert Boyd, and all the chivalry,

That not a Southron ere eventide

Might any longer in that stour abide.

Following that battle, Sir Robert Boyd II was in the van in the capture of Ayr castle from the English. He accompanied Wallace in his affary into England, and commanded the west gate at the seige of York. He died in 1300, perhaps as a result of his warlike efforts, to be succeeded by his son the third Sir Robert.

Seven things you didn’t know about General Mills

MINNEAPOLIS — “Ours is a rich history,” said Ken Powell, chairman and chief executive of General Mills, which this week celebrates its 150th birthday. What began as a single mill on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis has become a multi-billion dollar company operating in 130 countries with a portfolio of iconic brands that include Cheerios, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Fiber One and Haagen-Dazs.

But General Mills’ achievements over the decades span well beyond breakfast cereal and snacks. The company is credited with inventing the Nerf ball and the “black box,” creating the first radio jingle and developing what is considered the industry’s best available food safety system.

General Mills traces its origins to 1866, when Cadwallader C. Washburn built a $100,000 flour mill on the Mississippi river. Competition soon followed when Charles Pillsbury bought a stake in an old mill on the opposite bank of the river. The Washburn Crosby Co. was consolidated with several other regional millers to form General Mills, Inc. in 1928, just a year after Pillsbury Flour Mills, Inc. was incorporated as a publicly-traded company. The two businesses united when General Mills acquired Pillsbury Co. in 2001.

With sales last year of $17.6 billion, General Mills is one of the top 10 largest food companies in the world. U.S. retail represents the company’s largest operating segment, with more than $10.5 billion in sales in 2015, followed by its international business with more than $5.1 billion in sales and the convenience stores and food service segment with nearly $2 billion. Meals accounted for 26% of the company’s U.S. retail sales last year, followed by cereals (22%), snacks (20%), baking products (19%) and yogurt and other products (13%).

Since 2000, General Mills has been expanding its footprint in the natural and organic market with the acquisitions of such brands as Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Larabar, Food Should Taste Good, Immaculate Baking and Annie’s. In January, the company acquired Epic Provisions, a meat snacks company. To drive future growth, General Mills recently began partnering with emerging food brands and entrepreneurs through its new business development and venturing unit, 301 Inc.

“What’s exciting is all that we will do in the future,” Mr. Powell said. “The past is prologue. The future is what we’re about. We’re going to continue our strong focus on sustainability and advocate for food security, because food is essential to life.”

Read on for seven interesting tidbits from General Mills’ 150-year history.

General Mills invented the Nerf ball…

From 1965 to 1985, the company operated a toy division that included such businesses as Parker Brothers, Play-Doh, Kenner and Lionel Trains. Toys developed under General Mills’ ownership include the Nerf ball, Care Bears, Paint-by-Numbers and the Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven. The company also marketed Spirograph, Monopoly, Risk, Clue and Stretch Armstrong before spinning off the division as Kenner Parker Toys in 1985.

The Ryan flight recorder, also known as the “Black Box,” was the product of a partnership between General Mills’ mechanical division and University of Minnesota professor James Ryan. A version of this aviation innovation is included in every global commercial aircraft. General Mills’ electronics group also built Alvin, the small deep-dive submersible that first explored Titanic wreckage.

A Pillsbury food scientist developed the gold standard in food safety.

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, a seven-step preventative approach to food safety, was developed by Howard Bauman of Pillsbury in collaboration with NASA in 1959. The program was adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1972 and has since become known as the best available system for controlling and preventing food safety hazards.

General Mills created the first radio jingle.

“Have You Tried Wheaties?”, a barbershop quartet-style ditty and what is believed to be the first singing radio commercial, debuted on Christmas Eve in 1926. General Mills also sponsored the first televised commercial sports broadcast in 1939, partnering with Major League Baseball to present a game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

General Mills provided food to soldiers in combat…

The company supported relief missions during World War I and produced food for Army rations during World War II. General Mills also built precision targeting technologies, including the jitterbug torpedo, for the military.

… and astronauts in space.

Pillsbury’s Dr. Bauman developed Space Food Sticks for NASA in the 1960s. The company filed for a trademark in 1970 for a “non-frozen balanced energy snack in rod form containing nutritionally balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fat and protein.” Laying the foundation for energy bars, Space Food Sticks were available in caramel, chocolate, malt, mint, orange and peanut butter flavors.

General Mills opened the first Olive Garden in 1982.

General Mills developed the concept for the Italian casual dining chain a little over a decade after acquiring Red Lobster in 1970. In 1995, the company spun off Darden Restaurants, Inc. (which has since spun off Red Lobster).

Ian Fleming

The best known of Britain’s WWII intelligence operatives, Ian Fleming was in his early 30s and stuck in a failed career when the war broke out. Having worked briefly in journalism, he had moved to banking under pressure from his family. He neither enjoyed nor succeeded at the work.

Recruited in May 1939 by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence, he became Godfrey’s personal assistant. In this role, he helped the abrasive Godfrey interact smoothly with his colleagues and government. Far more than just an administrative assistant, Fleming took a leading role in areas such as coordination with the Americans and planning for intelligence gathering if Hitler took control of Spain.

The old Admiralty building in London, where Fleming was based for the first years of the war. Jimmy Harris – CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1942, Fleming formed 30 Assault Unit, a specialist commando group. Their job was to collect information near the front lines, ensuring that papers left behind by retreating enemies were gathered and used. Although never going into the field with them, Fleming directed their work for two years. After overseeing naval intelligence distribution during D-Day, he moved on to T-Force, a larger version of the work of 30 Assault Unit.

After the war, Fleming returned to journalism and then to novel writing. Based on his knowledge of intelligence work, he created the character of James Bond. His hugely popular books about the British secret agent spawned a string of big budget films that continues to this day.

WW2 Shoulder Insignia of Fleming’s 30 Assault Unit. Worn in pairs, one each upper arm it consists of a Cambridge blue 󈧢’ on a dark navy blue backing. No other unit insignia was worn due to the high-security nature of the unit.

Pillsbury II DE-133 - History

The History of Crazy Quilts, Part II
By Betty Pillsbury in Collaboration with Rita Vainius

Click here if you missed Part I , last month.

Regardless of exactly how the fad came into being, there is no doubt it was an intense passion. At the height of its vogue, crazy work must have become a kind of obsession with some women. At least one story, "The Career of a Crazy Quilt" in the July 1884 "Godey's Lady's Book", and several poems of the period note the lengths to which women went to get free fabric scraps. Part of the fun was to procure your silks and velvets by whatever means you could manage, without paying for them.

Soon the ladies magazines of the day were publishing embellishment patterns to be used on crazy quilts. Manufacturers offered an assortment of fabrics to be used in these projects. Many thread companies touted their wares as the quintessential product for crazy quilt embroidery stitches. Crazy quilt in its heyday must have appealed tremendously to the prevailing taste, which tended to visualize all objects, arts and architecture as "potential collage or mosaic, subject to layering, encrustation and ornamentation".

If finding the exact origins of crazy work is elusive, determining how its popularity grew is not. This phenomenon was the first of many to be spread by a form of mass media, the magazine. Hundreds of thousands of women read the most popular ladies' journals: one copy was often shared by as many as ten women. Even tobacco companies jumped on the bandwagon. Inserted in packages of cigarettes were small pieces of silk to be used in a crazy quilt. These cigarette silks featured pictures of flowers, queens, flags, animals and butterflies. Think of children today emptying a box of cereal to get the prize and you have an idea of the Victorian woman sending her husband out for a package of smokes to get the coveted cigarette silk bonus. Today these silks are very rare and get premium price at antique shops, if you can find them!

The value of a crazy quilt was determined by the intricacy and variation of the stitching. Remember, there were no quilting stitches or batting. These quilts were not made for warmth and comfort, but to lie across the fainting couch in the parlor to showcase milady's needlework proficiency.

Often a muslin or flannel foundation was used and the scraps of fancy fabrics sewn onto it. Then, the seams were embroidered. The center of the patch was also embellished with exquisite motifs stitched onto them. Sometimes political ribbons were sewn into the design. Painting on velvet and satin became a popular way to decorate patches. Ribbonwork and beading were also utilized to enhance the beauty of the work. Victorians were a sentimental lot and used symbolism extensively. Foe example, there was a language of flowers, where every blossom held a different meaning: a red carnation meant "Alas for my poor heart", Rosemary was for remembrance. It is perhaps from this tradition that even today we send roses to the one we love. On many crazy quilts you will find a spider web as a symbol for good luck. Anchors represented faith and wreaths were for mourning.

The variety of crazy work objects was as large and diverse as the fabrics, threads and embellishments that went into them: table and pillow covers, scarves, lambrequins ( a kind of short valance to hang from a shelf or mantelpiece), piano covers, fire screens, robes and kimonos, slippers, wall pockets, coffin covers and anti-macassars (a doily or linen placed on the back of a chair to protect the upholstery from the popular men's hair gel of the day, macassar oil) were all potential candidates for adornment in this fashion. Entire rockers were smothered in crazy work and lap robes were thrown over the backs of living room chairs and sofa's to exhibit the homemaker's skill and taste. A coffin cover executed by a woman in Missouri at the turn of the century was made for the family to drape over the coffin at a funeral service. Embellishments would be added as a memento to the deceased. The cover was then kept for the next funeral and appropriate new decorations would be added for it's subsequent use.

Though crazy work continued to be popular into the 1920's, as early as September 1884 "Harpers" had somewhat reversed its previous endorsement. An article entitled "Crazy Work and Sane Work" criticized women for wasting their time on the 'busy idleness that has been made to seem improving.': " The makers of 'crazy patchwork' seem to have eaten of the insane root that takes the reason prisoner. Their countless stitches and ugly ingenuity appear to them to fit expression of aesthetic instincts, and they give thanks that they live in the cultivated age which ornaments its whisk-broom holders. RAPHAEL and LEONARDO would never have thought of that!"

In its time of glory, crazy work had tremendous appeal, possibly because the maker could do her work any way she chose, thus allowing for a good deal of freedom in an age that restricted women in so many other ways. Despite its short lifespan, it seems to have filled a vital contemporary need (or possibly void) in these women's lives. As Sally Garoutte has noted: "Better than swooning, better than nervous breakdowns, better than gin or patent medicines, Crazy Quilts were American women's answer to the constrictions of the Victorian age."

When this fashion died out and tastes changed crazy patchwork was regarded as one of the worst examples of Victorian over-ornamentation. Today this style is regarded much more fondly. It is evocative of an opulent age and an ideal way to indulge oneself with the pleasure of lavish stitchery, sumptuous fabrics and glowing jewel like colors and in so stimulate the imagination by teasing and tickling one's creative yearnings.

The 1980's and 1990's has seen a renewed interest in crazy quilting. Today's artists are using the idea of random piecing and embellishments to make modern crazy quilts. Some honor the traditional method and others pioneers have taken crazy quilting to new heights. Judith Baker Montano makes simply marvelous landscapes and wearable art. She has authored several books on crazy quilting that have helped revive this Victorian art form. Crazy Quitters today still use the velvets, satins, silks, and brocades of yesteryear, but also employ cottons, hand dyed silks, rayons and polyesters. Embellishments may include lace, pearls, seed beads, jewelry, silk ribbon embroidery, appliquéd trims and buttons. Embroidery no longer confines itself to just the seam lines, but meanders throughout the composition. Crazy Quilting is still showcasing the stitcher's needlework but more importantly are now valued as significant works of art.

Enhance Your Crazy Quilts

The Caron Collection's uniquely dyed threads offer the opportunity to wonderfully enrich and enhance your crazy quilt stitching and embroidery. Try a feather stitch in Evergreen Waterflowers add lazy daisies in Rose Quartz Waterlilies try Soie Cristale instead of mundane floss when embroidering your next rose. All these or even just one of them, will make a world of difference in the look and texture of your stitching, Your herringbone stitches will never be the same once you stitch them with Double-Dipped Rachel!

The above article was written by Betty Pillsbury who is president of the Omaha Needle Artists Chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America. Betty is also active in the American Needlepoint Guild, Living Lace of Omaha, Crazy Quilters' Support Group of Eastern Nebraska and the Society of Creative Anachronism. Over 100 Ribbons have been awarded to Betty for her needlework. Hand-made ornaments were created by her for the White House and the National Museum of Women Artists. Her work has been featured in "Needlearts", "Needle Pointers" and "Miniature Quilts" Magazines. In addition to teaching locally and nationally, Betty is currently writing a book on embroidery for crazy quilting, which is eagerly awaited by us all! Betty will be heading a special "study hall" class on crazy quilting techniques at the Kirk Collection Show (mentioned above), this July in Omaha, Nebraska. Betty's colleagues: Leslie Levison, Judith Montano, Penny McMorris, Camille Cognac and Cindy Brick will also be on hand to share their expertise with crazy quilt enthusiasts. You can contact Betty at (402) 292-0672 or by email at [email protected]

Crazy Quilt Resources on the Web:

Quiltropolis Chat List - There is a chat list on the internet for crazy quilt lovers: http://www.quiltropolis.com and follow the links to mail lists and sign up. This group is more than 700 members strong and topics of discussion have included basic piecing ,to dyeing silk ribbon, to how to drill holes in seashells so they can be affixed to an ocean themed crazy quilt.

Crazy Quilt Central web site - Your one-stop web site for all types of crazy quilting. Dawn Smith has set up an excellent site at http://www.geocities.com/Soho/Lofts/6531/ Here you will find links to antique quilts, contemporary works, frequently asked questions, book reviews and more.

Vintage Vogue web site - Another wonderful site that showcases contemporary crazy quilting. Go to http://www.vintagevogue.com and follow the links to crazy quilts. Janet, who maintains this site, also carries many supplies for crazy quilting.

Evening Star Designs mail order for quilting supplies - Located at http://home.att.net/

evening.Star.designs even has a crazy quilt club. Carolyn, the owner, will send a packet of coordinating fabric, threads, beads and some suggestions for embellishments for crazy quilting.

The Kirk Collection for Crazy Quilt Fabrics - For the most splendid antique and reproduction fabrics for crazy quilting. You can also find authentic cigarette silks here.

"Crazy Quilt Conference" - Nancy Kirk is hosting this conference on July 9 to 12 to be held in Omaha, Nebraska. You will find their home page at http://www.kirkcollection.com

The "Quilting Show to End All Quilting Shows" - Each and every year the American Quilt Society sponsors this incredible event which takes place every year around April. For more information, their web address is http://www.aqs.com

American Quilts by Elizabeth Wells Robertson Studio Publications, N.Y.C. 1948

Wrapped in Glory - Figurative Quilts and Bedcovers 1700 - 1900 by Sandi Fox Thames and Hudson, L.A. County Museum of Art 1990

Quilting Manual by Dolores Hinson Hearthside Press 1966

Patchwork and Applique by Sara Parr and Pamela Tubby Marshall Cavendish Unlmtd.1970

"Folk Art Magazine" "Show Quilts - The Collection of the Museum of American Folk Art " Spring 1995 by Elizabeth Warren

"Folk Art Magazine "Crazy Patchwork - Victorian Mania" Fall 1986 by Judith Weissman

Crazy Quilts by Penny McMorris Dutton, NY 11984

Crazy Quilt Odyssey by Judith Montano C & T Publishing , Ca 1991

Silk Ribbon Embroidery C & T Publishing, Ca. 1993

The Language of Flowers by Margaret Pickston The Yeoman Group, NY

Rita Vainius was honored to collaborate with Betty Pillsbury, an acknowledged foremost historian, teacher, writer, authority and creator of Crazy Quilts, on the above feature.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of this feature story nor the included designs/charts can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of the CARON Collection Ltd. or the featured designers. One time reproduction privileges provided to our web site visitors for and limited to personal use only.

© 1997 The Caron Collection / Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

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  1. Adem

    What a luck!

  2. Oji


  3. Keril

    In my opinion, you are wrong. I'm sure. I can prove it. Email me at PM, we will discuss.

  4. Suthfeld

    I would like to talk to you on this theme.

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