Duncan Hines Exhibit Coming to WKU

By: Amy Bingham
By: Amy Bingham

The life of one of Kentucky’s best known natives will soon be celebrated at the Kentucky Museum.

Western Kentucky University announced plans this morning to unveil an exhibit featuring food icon Duncan Hines.

The central feature of the exhibit will be the food giant’s kitchen, and visitors will be able to learn about his career as a writer on travel, dining and entertaining.

The exhibit is set to open in august of 2007. It will include a huge collection of Duncan Hines materials donated by the Bowling Green area convention and visitors bureau.

The Kentucky Museum also announced an additional ten thousand square feet opening to the public. They've secured a remote storage area to free up more room. The new space will be used to display quilts, decorative arts and a children's museum.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - "Recommended by Duncan Hines," an exhibit celebrating the life of perhaps one of the best known Kentuckians, will open in August 2007 in Western Kentucky University's Kentucky Museum.

This exhibit will be the centerpiece of a renovated and expanded gallery at the Kentucky Building. Additional changes, including additional exhibit space and improved access for the handicapped, will take place over the next four years.

Located on the first floor of the Kentucky Museum, "Recommended by Duncan Hines" will include 11 different sections featuring the life and work of the Bowling Green native. An extensive collection of artifacts will be on hand, as well as the permanent loan of an outstanding collection from the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors' Bureau.

The exhibit features these artifacts along with state-of the art media tools so visitors will learn about Hines' career as a writer on travel, dining and entertaining, as well as his transition to a "name brand"
icon and pioneer in the world of packaged food. Each area takes you on a journey into Hines' life.

The first vignette recalls American life in the early 1900s. Along the way, visitors will be introduced to Duncan Hines, the man, with a brief biographical overview of his life, including his birth and upbringing in Bowling Green. They will learn about his family, his career and how what started as a hobby, turned Duncan Hines into an American icon. Visitors will see the Duncan Hines kitchen filled with items from Hines' own kitchen - his stove, base cabinet and kitchen sink. The cabinets are filled with branded artifacts and objects - mixes, cookware, Stetson dinnerware, and cookbooks. It not only exhibits the familiar, nostalgic trappings and artifacts of mid-century America, it represents the central themes of Duncan Hines' work. Just as the kitchen is the heart of a home, this kitchen is at the "heart" of the Duncan Hines story.
These are only a few of the artifacts on exhibit at "Recommended by Duncan Hines."


"Recommended by Duncan Hines" is made possible through several gifts.

The Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau provided a $35,000 cash gift in addition to a large collection of artifacts, from postcards of restaurants and hotels from the 48 contiguous states bearing the Duncan Hines seal of approval to a seven-piece cookware set that was still in the box.

The Park Foundation has contributed $50,000. Hines and Roy Park formed Hines-Park Food Corp. in 1948 to develop and market the Duncan Hines line of food products.

Pinnacle Foods, which now owns the Duncan Hines brand, has donated $20,000.

The Hines family is supporting the exhibit with a gift of an undisclosed amount.

In addition, WKU has supported the exhibit with a $80,000 appropriation from the University Enhancement Fund.


"Duncan Hines" conjures up images of sweet treats in the minds of most Americans, but there is more to the story. Duncan Hines was a real person.a small town boy turned American icon!

Hines was born on March 23, 1880, in Bowling Green, Ky. He studied at Bowling Green Business University and accepted a job out west as a traveling salesman just before graduation. It was the time spent on the road before returning to Bowling Green that would prepare him for his greatest success.

Hines loved traveling and he loved good food. He soon began keeping a journal and as he traveled, he noted his favorite places to eat. By 1930 he had made 200 entries! In 1936 Hines put together a list of 167 of his favorite restaurants, in 30 states, and printed the list as his Christmas cards. Soon after, public interest in Duncan Hines'
recommendations exploded!

Later in 1936 Hines published his first book "Adventures in Good Eating." A second edition quickly followed, and in 1938 he published a guide to the best places to stay in America. This came at a time when the automobile had found its way into the hearts and homes of most Americans. For the first time, Americans were taking road trips. They were seeking out area attractions and wanted to know the best places to eat and stay the night along their journey. These two books gave them just what they had been looking for and proved to be great companions for American people who were experiencing the new found freedom of the road!

Readers loved Hines. More importantly, they trusted him. He had strict standards that he didn't waive for anyone. In the '40s Hines began renting signs "Recommended by Duncan Hines." Lodging and dining facilities strived to be part of this select group. Most didn't mind maintaining higher standards since a recommendation from Hines often meant the difference between a struggling business and one of profit.

In 1938, after the death of his wife, Florence, Hines moved back to Bowling Green and began work as a private publisher. Hines was often approached to endorse products or companies, but always refused, feeling that a partnership may compromise his "most valuable asset"-his independence.

This changed in 1948 when Hines was approached by Roy Park and offered the opportunity to "upgrade American eating habits." Park was president of his own advertising agency, and wanted to create an easily recognizable label that shoppers would associate with superior quality.
In December 1948 Hines-Park Food Corp. was formed.

Soon after, the "Duncan Hines" label would begin to appear on ice cream.this proved to be a huge success and was followed by an additional 150 food products bearing the Duncan Hines name. Hines took a hands-on approach in marketing these products. He was on the road again attending store openings, promotional events and often appeared on local television and radio programs. With the emergence of outdoor cooking, the Duncan Hines name began to appear on grills, grilling utensils and seasonings as well.

In 1950 Hines-Park announced the product that we most associate Duncan Hines with today - packaged cake mixes. After only two years, Duncan Hines cake mixes had captured 10 percent of the national market. The market continued to grow as Hines-Park Foods' advertising budget went from $10,000 in 1949 to more than $1 million in 1952.

Hines-Park Foods merged with Proctor & Gamble in 1956, and with this change came the addition of a wide array of Duncan Hines baking mixes.

In 1959, 23 years after being declared America's "eatery expert" by a Chicago newspaper, Duncan Hines died. He was 78. In 1962 his guidebooks were discontinued, but his name, his label and the superior quality of his products live on. Today, the Duncan Hines product line includes 60 different mixes ranging from cakes and brownies to cookies and muffins.

- WKU - a leading American university with international reach -

More WKU news is available at www.wku.edu. If you'd like to receive WKU news via e-mail, send a message to WKUNews@wku.edu.



For more information, contact Timothy Mullin, Library Special Collections Department Head, at (270) 745-6261, or Cindy Troutman, Marketing Coordinator, University Libraries, at (270) 745-4502.


BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The "Recommended by Duncan Hines" exhibit is only one of many changes that is planned for the Kentucky Library and Museum over the next four years.
In the coming months, an additional 10,000 square feet of museum space will be opened to the public. In order to achieve this, a secure, remote storage facility is being created for the bulk of the collections.
The first new gallery spaces opened will be devoted to the museum's outstanding collection of quilts and decorative arts. Furniture which descended through the family of Benjamin Franklin will be on display, the art collection of Perry Snell will come out of storage and be seen for the first time in corporate memory, Kentucky-made furniture and silver and glass collections will all have an opportunity to be seen in the decorative arts gallery space.
Currently, a staff member or volunteer must be available to operate the elevator and chair lift, which sometimes makes it difficult for everyone to have full access to the building. Soon both the elevator and chair lift will be modified and will become self-operated, making the Kentucky Building easily accessible to everyone.
The Orientation Room will be transformed into the Western Room, a carpeted space with wood wainscoting, tiered seating, built-in display cabinets, and high tech audio/visual displays. It will be a space where prospective students and their families can be introduced to WKU.
These are only a few changes that are coming to The Kentucky Library and Museum over the next four years.


Since first conceived in the early 1920s, the Kentucky Building's purpose has been to educate others about the history of Kentucky, its people and culture.

The Kentucky Building, which houses The Kentucky Library and Museum, had a modest beginning. It started with Gabrielle Robertson, a faculty member who taught Kentucky history. She had a difficult time finding resources for her students and began to collect books and other materials and place them in a special room in the library. Assisting her were Frances Richards, who taught Kentucky literature, and librarian Florence Ragland.

At the same time, President Henry Hardin Cherry, first seeking support from the General Assembly and later through private contributions, envisioned The Kentucky Building. For WKU students, The Kentucky Building would be a center for the study and teaching of Kentucky history, geography, literature, people and culture. For the public, it would serve as a permanent repository for documents and artifacts that might otherwise be lost, "an ideal environment for the promulgation of the story of Kentucky's life."

In 1928, President Cherry asked Western's architect, Brinton B. Davis, to begin work on plans for the 40,000-square-foot, Colonial Revival style structure that would include reception areas, classrooms, museum galleries and library reading rooms. Three years later, in 1931, construction began, but money quickly ran out due to the Great Depression.

The Kentucky Building finally opened in the fall of 1939. The collections continued to grow, and by the 1970s, additional space was needed. A new wing, opened in 1980, greatly expanded the Kentucky Library and Museum to a 75,000 square foot building, offering information about the Civil War, World War II, Kentucky authors, Mammoth Cave, early university life, Kentucky ancestors, folklore, South Union Shakers, and politics. The extensive collection includes diaries, quilts, music, clothing, maps, letters, oral histories, furniture, toys, political memorabilia, scrapbooks, decorative and fine arts as well as an 1815 log house.

- WKU - a leading American university with international reach -

More WKU news is available at www.wku.edu. If you'd like to receive WKU news via e-mail, send a message to WKUNews@wku.edu.

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