The Duncan Hines Festival

Almost seven years ago, on October 24, 2000 there was a "Food History" column on Duncan Hines. When I learned that his hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky was opening a special Duncan Hines exhibit in a local museum this August I contacted the Visitors Bureau for details. Ms. Marissa Butler sent a wealth of information on the celebration.

Reading through the material, I found an error in the original column. Hines died in 1959, not 1971 as I had reported. Otherwise the story was correct.

Duncan Hines was born in Bowling Green in March 1880. He is a classic example of the "late bloomer," winning national and international fame and recognition in 1936 when he was 56 years of age. That was the year he published his first book,

"Adventures In Good Eating." It sold 250,000 copies and has since gone through 46 updated printings.

Hines was a traveling salesman, based in Chicago, who spent most of his time on the road. For his own comfort, he started a file on prices, service and quality of food served at restaurants where he dined across the nation. He kept a second file on the most comfortable hotels in the city.

Instead of sending Christmas cards to his friends and clients in 1935, Duncan sent a pamphlet listing his favorite dining places. He was inundated with requests for copies. He went into business, publishing "Adventures In Good Eating" the following year. "Lodging For A Night" followed soon after. The traveling salesman became our country's most respected restaurant critic.

Readers loved his syndicated food columns. More important, they trusted him.

"Recommended by Duncan Hines" guaranteed that the establishment had maintained standards he expected. To protect his integrity, Hines never accepted a free meal or overnight lodging.

With his new career blossoming, Hines came home to Bowling Green and built a combination home and office on Louisville Road. That is now the starting point for the 82 mile Duncan Hines Scenic way. The route wanders through pristine mountain scenery, several small communities, historic cemeteries and a Civil War battlefield. It crosses the Green River by ferry then passes the entrance of Mammoth Cave National Park before returning to the starting point.

For 14 years, Hines refused to endorse any product. In 1950, he and Roy Park founded the Hines-Park Food Corporation. Roy persuaded his friend to allow some items to be marketed under his name. Again, to protect his integrity, he tested every product in the kitchen he had built in his office.His wife, Clara, helped by offering a housewive's viewpoint.

His hometown is also the home of Western Kentucky University. With roughly 1,100 faculty and nearly 20,000 students, it is one of the largest institutions of higher learning in the Bluegrass State. This year the college spent over a million dollars to honor the local legend. In August they opened an exhibit covering the life of Duncan Hines, the small town boy who became a national icon.

Ms. Butler included a recipe for Double Apple Cake. I am saving it for some special occasion but I can guarantee it. It was "recommended by Duncan Hines."


1 Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Golden Cake Mix

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup apple butter

1/3 cup water

1 31 oz can apple pie filling

3/4 cup caramel topping

PREPARATION: Mix eggs, cake mix, apple butter and water, pour into blender. Blend two minutes on slow speed. Pour into buttered 9 by 13 baking pan. Spoon pie filing on top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 45 to 55 minutes. Drizzle caramel topping on warm cake. Serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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