In 1941 the Cohen E. Williams family purchased Royal Flour Mill in Nashville, TN from the founder Richard Lindsay who had named his best-selling family flour after his baby daughter, Martha White. Cohen Williams was convinced that self-rising flour and cornmeal would be a welcome convenience to Southern cooks who baked biscuits and cornbread every day. Having salt, soda and baking powder blended into the flour and corn meal in the perfect proportions assured a consistent finished product every time. As it turned out, he was right. Self-rising flour and corn meal were soon found in the majority of Southern pantries.
The company name had been changed to Martha White Foods. Advertising on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry radio show helped increased distribution. By the early 1950’s, Mr. Williams realized he had done such a great job of selling his self-rising products as perfect for biscuits and cornbread that his consumers didn’t think about using them for anything else. He knew the same blend of flour or corn meal, salt and leavening would work for other quick breads and baked goods, but what was the best way to let everyone else know what he did?
In 1952, Mr. Williams hired Alice Jarman to start and direct the Martha White Test Kitchen. Alice monitored product consistency and answered consumer mail, but her main job was to develop a wide variety of recipes using self-rising products. She was also asked to spread the word about the ease and convenience of using Martha White® Self-Rising Flour and Corn Meal with “Hot Rize®.”
Next month, I’ll tell you a little more about Alice and the Martha White Test Kitchen.