People bought the mixes.
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At least, some people bought the mixes. The sales numbers gradually plateaued.
Most home cooks were still making their cakes from scratch, and the product had reached everyone it was going to reach. View image of Cake mix in bowl Credit: Alamy. What had happened? First of all, the bar set for cake mixes was very, very high, says Shapiro. The cake had to be perfect — that was part of the deal with the consumer.
Betty Crocker™ Baking & Cake Mixes
There are a lot of things you can cover up with mayonnaise. But not a cake. Another, bigger problem was also emotional in nature. And it was hard to see a way around it. Getting it from someone else was cheating. Even if some people had decided any cake was better than no cake, the persistent sense that something soulless about cake from a box kept many others from embracing it. The flour companies had a product with significant cultural marks against it, and stagnant growth. The fact was one of the reasons cake mixes didn't taste good was they tasted like dried eggs — Laura Shapiro, food historian.
As they tried to work through this, a man named Ernest Dichter came into the picture. He was a psychologist and marketing consultant, now known as one of the founders of modern consumer behaviour studies and a pioneer of focus groups. Dichter told the cake companies the answer was to take the eggs out of the mix and put them back into the hands of the baker.
The problem was that the women who were making the cakes didn't feel emotionally invested enough just adding water, he said. Eggs would make it feel more like baking.
In later years, many would portray this as a pivotal moment in the history of cake mixes, the inflection point of a dramatic upward curve. The truth is, though, that the cake companies already knew about the egg problem.
The 9 Best Boxed Cake Mixes of
In fact, as early as Duff had introduced a mix that had bakers add eggs themselves. And actually, the mixes worked better that way. The companies performed surveys and asked women which version they would buy — the results were contradictory — and in the end, they just did as they pleased. General Mills went over to fresh eggs. Pillsbury eventually followed. View image of Mix being put in cupcake holders Credit: Alamy. The cake mix did take over after all, to Shapiro's chagrin.
Below are the exact measurements we added according to each brand's instructions:. We started with Pillsbury, of course. Consistency is key for kitchen experiments! Chocolate cake batter is perfectly gooey. We also noticed the Duncan Hines' batter was significantly lighter in color than its fellows. Clearly the "Swiss Chocolate" mix was not as similar to "Devil's Food" as we'd assumed. The cake on the box was a lie.
Another important difference came from the Betty Crocker mix. Batter waterfall! Please forgive our mis-matched mixing bowls, but we assure you each cake pan was identical. Betty Crocker's, as noted earlier, was a slightly more "wet" consistency, and was also beginning to bubble more similar to the way pancake mix does when you let it sit.
The Duncan Hines mix was a paler brown color, which looked even less appealing right next to the rich chocolaty brown of the Pillsbury mix. In the end, each cake except Betty Crocker was done after the allotted 26 minutes. Due to the added water and moisture in the mix, Betty Crocker's cake required an additional 4 minutes of bake time. Tasty cakes awaiting judgment. Of course, we eat with our eyes first.
This cake was a bit flatter around the edges, with a good rise in the center and decent chocolate sheen. The taste was rich, but not too sweet, and very chocolaty. A forkful held together nicely without crumbling.
The "Swiss chocolate" looked pale and un-appetizing next to all the others. The taste was definitely more of a milk chocolate than a dark, "devil's food. This cake also looked promising, with a rich brown color and shiny finish. It was noticeably lumpier, though, and had an uneven rise. The taste was decent, and it held together with a tighter crumb structure. The last cake looked the tastiest to us, with a perfect shiny top and not too many craters. This one also had a great flavor, slightly better than Betty Crocker's, but it fell apart much more easily.
Though Pillsbury made a good showing, Best Yet's chocolate cake had the overall better chocolate flavor.