Michael Y. Park
Before you turn up your nose when your mom offers to bring a box of cake mix to your house the next time she visits, consider the story of how the much-maligned timesaver came to be in the first place.
Though the standard line is that the cake mix was born after World War II and was developed by corporate mills that had too much flour on their hands, it's really older-it was brought into being at least as early as the 1930s, thanks to a surplus not of flour but of molasses.
We have a Pittsburgh company called P. Duff and Sons to thank. On Dec. 10, 1930, the company's John D. Duff applied for a patent for an "invention [that] relates to a dehydrated flour for use in making pastry products and to a process of making the same." In the application, Duff's mix for gingerbread involved creating a powder of wheat flour, molasses, sugar, shortening, salt, baking soda, powdered whole egg, ginger, and cinnamon that the home cook could rehydrate with water, thenRead More »from A History of the Cake Mix, the Invention that Redefined 'Baking'