Tidbits: Duncan Hines an early food celebrity

Herald-Leader food writerMay 6, 2014 

To many people, Duncan Hines is the man behind the cake mix, but he was more than a brand.

In Duncan Hines: How a Traveling Salesman Became the Most Trusted Name in Food (University Press of Kentucky, $19.95), biographer Louis Hatchett gives an account of how Hines, a Bowling Green native, became a celebrity long before there were food channels and viral blog posts.

From 1905 to 1938, Hines traveled the country selling his wares and advertising specialties and dining at roadside restaurants. When he found a place that offered excellent food and a very clean kitchen, he noted the name and location in a notebook. He soon acquired a reputation among his fellow salesmen as the man who knew where all the good restaurants were.

In 1934, a Chicago newspaper wrote an article about his hobby of finding good places to eat. In 1935, Hines printed a list of 167 excellent restaurants throughout the United States. The next year, he self-published a guide, Adventures in Good Eating. Readers requested that Hines compile a cookbook of recipes from the places he recommended. Adventures in Good Cooking was published in 1939 and updated annually.

In 1949, Hines joined entrepreneur Roy Park to establish Hines-Park Foods, and within a few years, they distributed more than 250 different items with the Duncan Hines logo. When the Duncan Hines cake mixes were introduced in 1951, they quickly became the company's best-selling item.

In Duncan Hines, Hatchett tells about Hines' childhood, marriages, travels, career and all the restaurants where he dined and what he ate.

Hines and his first wife, Florence, stopped in Lexington in October 1937 to eat supper "at the best dining facility in town, the Canary Cottage. There they ate country ham and fried chicken served with homemade rolls and corn sticks."

The University Press also is reissuing Adventures in Good Cooking and The Dessert Book, two of Hines' classic cookbooks. This recipe for ham pie is from the Anderson Hotel in Wabasha, Minn., and is included in Adventures in Good Cooking.


Ham pie with cheese biscuit topping

1 cup sliced cooked carrots

1 cup diced cooked potatoes

1½ cups chopped, cooked ham

1½ cups medium-thick white sauce

For cheese biscuits:

2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt+

4 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄3 cup shortening

3/4 cup sweet milk

1/2 cup grated sharp cheese

Arrange layers of carrots, potatoes and ham in buttered casserole. Pour over all the white sauce. Cover top with as many cheese biscuits as will fit. Bake in pre-heated oven, 400 degrees, for about 30 minutes.

To make biscuits: Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Add milk to make soft dough. Knead slightly on floured board until smooth. Roll out into strip about ¼-inch thick and 6 inches wide. Sprinkle dough with cheese and roll like jelly roll. Cut off pieces 1 inch thick. The cheese biscuits not used on the casserole may be placed on a greased baking sheet and baked in a hot oven, 450 degrees, for 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

This recipe is from Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Va., and was published in The Dessert Book.

Peanut brittle delight

2 cups peanut brittle

2 cups marshmallows

1½ cups whipping cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup sugar

1 cup peanuts

Crush peanut brittle very fine. Quarter marshmallows. Whip cream; add sugar and vanilla. Fold peanut brittle and marshmallows into whipped cream. Let stand 2 hours before serving. Serve in sherbet glasses. Garnish with peanuts.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

New candy for anniversary

Don and Pam Hurt are celebrating their 50th year as owners of Old Kentucky Chocolates, and Pam Hurt said her husband has "concocted what I think is his best piece of candy."

Black Forest truffles include chunks of cherries that are aged in Jim Beam bourbon. Samples of the new candy flavor are available at all locations: 450 Southland Drive, (859) 278-4444; 410 West Vine Street, (859) 252-2639; and 3385 Tates Creek Road, (859) 268-4711.

Go to Oldkycandy.com.

Salt-slab cooking class

Stuarto's Olive Oil Co. is having a class on salt slab cooking 6 to 8 p.m. May 14 at The Club at Spindletop Hall, 3414 Ironworks Pike. The cost is $41. Call (859) 263-0088. The menu features salt slab-cooked petite filet mignon with garlic oil and hickory-smoked sea salt, and breast of chicken with cilantro and roasted onion oil, onion sea salt and sweet onion cane sugar.

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog:flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com

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