10 Things You Might Not Know About Bisquick

articgoneape/Getty Images
articgoneape/Getty Images

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.

Why Are There 10 Hot Dogs to a Pack But Only 8 Buns?

tacar/iStock via Getty Images
tacar/iStock via Getty Images

Watching competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut cram dozens of hot dogs down his throat would make anyone crave a grilled log of processed meat this summer. But shopping for hot dogs can be a confusing experience. The dogs are typically sold in packs of 10, but the buns are sold in packs of eight. What's behind this strange dog and bun inequality?

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council—yes, there is a National Hot Dog and Sausage Council—there’s a good reason for the discrepancy. For starters, distributors of hot dogs are almost always different from manufacturers of baked goods like rolls. The hot dogs are sold in packs of 10 because producers of meat (or meat-like) products selected that quantity when hot dogs started to sell at retail grocery stores in the 1940s. Oscar Mayer, which led the charge into direct-to-consumer hot dog packaging, sold hot dogs by the pound in accordance with how meat is typically priced. Having 10 dogs that weighed 1.6 ounces each seemed like the ideal distribution of weight.

Bakeries, meanwhile, have standards of their own. Buns and sandwich rolls are usually sold eight to a pack because the baking trays for the elongated buns are typically sized to fit that number. Two sets of four buns come off the tray, which is the reason why buns are often still attached to one another when you open a bag.

These standards were created independently of one another: Bakeries weren’t too preoccupied with hot dogs when they were settling on a four-roll tray standard, and hot dog manufacturers weren’t thinking about how difficult it would be for bakeries to break from their conveyor system to offer 10 buns to a pack.

It can be frustrating if you buy just one or two packages of each, but if you’re hosting a big enough party, the uneven number doesn’t matter. You just need to buy five packages of buns and four packages of hot dogs to have 40 matching pairs. No complicated calculations required.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Two Eco-Minded Kids in England Are Petitioning McDonald’s and Burger King to Nix Plastic Toys

romrodinka/iStock via Getty Images
romrodinka/iStock via Getty Images

Some kids are not content to wait around while the grown-ups sort out the future of our planet. Two of them, 9-year-old Ella and 7-year-old Caitlin, have launched a petition on Change.org requesting that McDonald’s and Burger King stop giving out plastic toys with their kid’s meals, Thrillist reports.

“Children only play with the plastic toys they give us for a few minutes before they get thrown away and harm animals and pollute the sea,” the British girls wrote on Change.org. “We want anything they give us to be sustainable so we can protect the planet for us and for future generations.” The petition has almost 400,000 signatures so far, and their current goal is to reach 500,000.

McDonald's Happy Meal
McDonald's

Last October, UK environment minister Thérèse Coffey also implored McDonald’s to stop giving out plastic toys, suggesting instead that they develop smartphone-friendly games to accompany the meals. At the time, a UK McDonald’s spokesman acknowledged the importance of reducing plastic waste and cited their promise to switch to paper straws, but countered the assumption that the plastic toys were only used for a few minutes, telling The Telegraph that they “provide many more fun-filled hours at home, too.”

The fast food giant did study the environmental effects of their toys last year and found that they are hard to recycle, since they’re manufactured from various types of plastic. As a result, McDonald’s is researching more Earth-friendly ways to make their toys. A Burger King representative told The Wall Street Journal that it, too, is exploring “alternative toy solutions.”

But according to Ella and Caitlin, “It’s not enough to make recyclable plastic toys—big, rich companies shouldn’t be making toys out of plastic at all.” The young activists themselves recycle as much as they can, and even hung a poster in their window about saving the planet.

You can sign their petition here, and learn how to reduce your own environmental impact.

[h/t Thrillist]

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