Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


To many Americans Duncan Hines (1880-1959) is just a name on a cake mix package. Few would suspect that in the 1940s and 1950s Duncan Hines was the most trusted name in the food industry. In the early twentieth century Hines was a traveling salesman of printing wares who was keenly interested in discovering safe places to eat during the course of his business excursions. He eventually became well-known among the public for his specialized knowledge of the locations of superior dining facilities. In 1936 he began publishing this information annually in a restaurant guide. By the end of the decade, Hines had become the best known and most trusted dining authority in America. Hines used his influence to reform the restaurant industry, particularly in the area of sanitation. In an era when Americans dined out infrequently, Hines popularized the idea that Americans should eat more of their meals outside the home. He also shaped the American expectation that dining out should be seen as a form of entertainment. For a host of reasons, the experience of the Second World War expanded his influence throughout America. After World War II researchers discovered that in all matters of food-not just restaurants-housewives trusted Hines more than any other authority. This discovery led Hines to form a partnership with businessman Roy Park. Together they established Hines-Park Foods, which eventually distributed over two-hundred Duncan Hines products. The company was highly successful and was purchased by the Procter and Gamble Corporation in 1956, leaving Duncan Hines a lasting legacy, if in name only.


History | United States History