Duncan Hines History in Bowling Green

Duncan Hines, the king of cake mix, was indeed a real person! Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Hines' influence on American dining standards is unparalleled. Explore the legacy of this original southern foodie and guidebook author during your visit to BGKY!

The Duncan Hines story begins while traveling the byways and highways of a newly motorized nation in the 1930s when Hines was impressed by many dining establishments... and shocked by others. At a time when health departments aren't available, Hines is not afraid of asking to see the kitchen as he anonymously inspects a restaurant. His humble, yet humorous, opinions become the basis for his guidebooks, soon to be in nearly every glove box in the nation.

Read on to learn more about America's "eatery expert," or navigate the microsite's sections to learn about the Duncan Hines Exhibit, the Duncan Hines Scenic Byway, and the annual Duncan Hines Festival.

Duncan Hines - The Man Behind the Cake Mix

More than a name... Duncan Hines! Without a doubt one of the most recognizable names in America. Many people who visit Bowling Green are surprised to find that, indeed, Duncan Hines was a real person and not something from the imagination of a Madison Avenue board room.

Hines was born in Bowling Green, KY, in 1880. He moved west because of an asthma condition, and after spending several years as a traveling salesman in the printing business he returned to Bowling Green. It was those years as a salesman that led him to his success. He spent so much time on the road that he became very familiar with restaurants and lodging across America.

Hines decided to take note of the best places to eat and sleep while traveling, and he then began to tell others about it. His recommendations became so popular that in 1935 he published a list of his top 167 restaurants and sent them along with his Christmas cards. The response was overwhelming. In 1936 he self-published Adventures in Good Eating, an expanded list of excellent restaurants. In 1937 Hines published a second edition.

By 1938 Hines had found a new career and published a guide to the best hotels and motels in America. Most Americans had both books in their cars for quick reference. After being featured in the Saturday Evening Post, Hines’ influence on the American public exploded! He used this trust to help reform American restaurants.

Hines goes in a new direction In 1949, Hines and businessman Roy Park formed Hines-Park Foods, Inc. with the purpose of bringing high-quality foods to the American housewife. They began producing over 250 canned, bottled and boxed products featuring the Duncan Hines label. In 1956, Hines-Park Foods merged with Procter& Gamble. Within a short time Duncan Hines introduced cake mixes, which were marketed nationwide along with other items under the brand name. The brand image has been built on the quality of its cake mix.

In 1959 Hines died 11 days before his 79th birthday. The guidebooks were discontinued in 1962, but market research by Procter & Gamble showed that 99 percent of people going into a grocery store recognized the brand Duncan Hines. Duncan Hines lives on... In March 2004, Pinnacle Foods Corporation acquired the Duncan Hines brand from Aurora Foods who had purchased it from Procter & Gamble in January 1998.

For more than 50 years, the Duncan Hines brand has represented excellence in baking mixes and is currently the nation’s second largest baking mix company with one of the most recognized trademarks in the U.S. The Duncan Hines product line includes 60 different sweet baked-good mixes ranging from layer cakes and brownies to cookie, muffin mixes as well as ready-to-spread frosting and several unique specialty products. Duncan Hines, the man, gave us much more than some wonderful products for the kitchen, he gave us a higher standard of dining in America. Because of Hines we have good, safe and enjoyable restaurants.

Duncan Hines' Gravesite

I-65, exit 26. Follow Cemetery Road towards 31W. Turn right into Fairview Cemetery. Follow the arrows to Section E. Mr. Duncan Hines' gravesite will be found to the left.

Duncan Hines Gravestone