10 Things You Might Not Know About Bisquick
Since 1931, Bisquick has been helping home cooks make a variety of quick and delicious Bisquick recipes. With its instantly recognizable yellow and blue box, the baking mix holds the key to making foods ranging from biscuits, pancakes, and waffles to dumplings, pot pies, and even churros. Read on for some facts about the famous Betty Crocker brand.
1. Bisquick's creation was inspired by a train ride to San Francisco.
On a train ride to San Francisco in 1930, Carl Smith, a sales executive at General Mills (which owns the Betty Crocker brand), ate some amazing biscuits. After he ordered the biscuits, he was impressed by how the train’s cook was able to quickly whip up fresh biscuits on demand. The cook showed Smith his secret for making fresh biscuits so quickly: He kept a pre-mixed blend of flour, baking powder, lard, and salt on ice.
2. General Mills acted quickly to get Bisquick in grocery stores.
Smith pitched the idea of a ready-to-bake biscuit mix to other executives at General Mills, and the company set out to make a blend of ingredients that could sit on the shelf of a grocery store without being refrigerated. Charlie Kress, the company’s head chemist, led the efforts to make the mix, and boxes of Bisquick went on sale to the public in 1931. It was incredibly popular, so competitors started selling Bisquick knock-offs, but Bisquick was the top seller.
3. Bisquick hired Shirley Temple to get kids to drink more milk.
In 1935, Bisquick partnered with child megastar Shirley Temple to sell more boxes of Bisquick and encourage kids to drink milk. Bisquick gave a free kid’s mug with Temple’s photo on it to customers who bought a large Bisquick box. Because the Bisquick mix required milk or water to be added to it, parents could use milk to make their biscuits, and kids could drink milk out of their Shirley Temple cups.
4. Bisquick offered a "world of baking in a box."
During the 1940s, Americans used Bisquick because it was a cheap, versatile convenience food. Bisquick’s slogan became “a world of baking in a box” to indicate that people could use the mix to make more than just biscuits. Recipes for coffee cake, muffins, fruit shortcake, and dumplings were printed on the back of Bisquick boxes, and home cooks used Bisquick to make everything from meat pies to cobblers.
5. The Bisquick recipe was modified in the 1960s.
General Mills changed the Bisquick recipe in the late 1960s to make biscuits fluffier and lighter in texture. The new product, which had buttermilk and more shortening in it, was called New Bisquick. New Bisquick was a hit, and after it replaced the old formulation, it was simply called Bisquick.
6. Bisquick recipes were traded and shared by fans.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Bisquick focused on recipes. In 1971, Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook gave readers more than 200 recipes using Bisquick. In 1980, the Bisquick Recipe Club served as an early social network for Bisquick fans. The club sent cookbooks and The Bisquick Banner—a newsletter with Bisquick recipes and ideas—to fans across the country.
7. Bisquick Shake n' Pour simplified the baking process even further.
Although Bisquick is already a convenient, time-saving food, General Mills found a way to make it even easier for (lazy) cooks. With Bisquick Shake 'n Pour, all you have to do is add water to the container, shake it, and pour the mix onto your griddle. Bisquick Shake 'n Pour includes dried egg whites, defatted soy flour, and buttermilk, so there’s no need to measure the mix, crack an egg, or add milk.
8. Regular Bisquick contains trans fats ...
Health-conscious customers object to Bisquick’s use of trans fat—specifically, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil—as an ingredient in the baking mix. Partially hydrogenated oils can raise your level of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower your level of HDL (good) cholesterol, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Consequently, you can find recipes online for a homemade Bisquick alternative, which uses flour, butter, baking powder, and salt.
9. ... so Bisquick introduced a heart-healthier variety.
Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake and Baking Mix is an option for customers who don’t want to eat trans fat (and don’t want to make their own homemade version of Bisquick). This variant contains no partially hydrogenated oils and has zero grams of trans fat.
10. Gluten-free Bisquick is a thing.
Bisquick sells a gluten-free pancake and baking mix, which contains rice flour and modified potato starch. Betty Crocker’s website also has a section devoted to gluten-free recipes, with everything from pumpkin pie to frittatas to cranberry stuffing to brownies.