On March 26th, 1880, Duncan Hines, hotel and restaurant critic whose name adorns cake mix boxes, was born in Bowling Green. Hines was a traveling salesman for a Chicago printer, and by age 55 in 1935, he had eaten his fair share of both good and bad meals on the road, all across the country during his travels. At this time in the United States, there was no interstate highway system and very few chain restaurants, except for in large, heavily populated areas. Therefore, travelers had to take their chances on getting a good meal at a local restaurant.
Hines and his wife Florence began to assemble a list of several hundred good restaurants around the country, in order to share with their friends. The list became so popular, that Hines published a book entitled Adventures in Good Eating, which documented restaurants and their featured dishes that Hines himself personally recommended. Restaurants that were given a favorable rating were given permission to hang a sign in the window that read, “Recommended by Duncan Hines,” and if a restaurant’s standards dropped, they could be cut from the next edition of the book – for this practice, Hines is known as the first modern food critic.
In 1952, Hines introduced his line of bread to the world through Durkee’s Bakery in New York. In 1953, he sold the right to use his name to Roy H. Park to form Hines-Park Foods, which licensed the name to a number of food businesses. The cake mix license was sold to Nebraska Consolidated Mills in Omaha, which developed and sold the first of the Duncan Hines cake mixes. Four years later, Nebraska Consolidated Mills sold the cake mix business to Proctor and Gamble, who brought the business to a national level and added a series of related products. Hines passed away on March 15, 1959, but his products remain a staple in many American households to this day.