I think all of us have used a cake mix at some point or another. Your kid comes home and tells you that you have to provide cupcakes for the party tomorrow, so you grab a mix and make the baked goods. You top them off with one of those frosting's in the can because its so quick and easy but do you know when cake mixes were first marketed? Probably a lot earlier than you thought.
There is a myth out stating that cake mixes came into being at the end of World War II due to an abundance of flour that needed to be used. Apparently it is just a myth because there is a record of cake mixes being available in the 1930's.
In 1930, John Duff of Pittsburg, PA applied for a patent for the first complete gingerbread mix that required adding only water. Mr Duff needed to use up his extra molasses so this gingerbread mix used 100 pounds of molasses for every 100 pounds of flour. In a very short time, the patent was extended to include cake mixes.
In 1933, they adjusted the recipe so the person using the mix, added the egg rather than relying on dried eggs in the mix because people physiologically preferred using fresh eggs. They received their egg-less mix patent in 1935 and they were off but cake mixes really didn't sweep the nation until after World War II when flour companies began selling convenience. By the end of the 1940's, there were 200 companies selling cake mixes but in the 1950's everything came to a major slowdown and many companies quit making mixes.
Flour company executives spent time trying to figure out how to make people want to buy the mixes. It turns out that it was the invention of icing that caused cake mixes to start selling again. There was an explosion of recipes, instructions, and designs flooded the market so now women could create any fancy cake their hearts desired using a box of mix and a can of frosting.
The frosting actually hid any weird flavors the early cake mixes had and made women feel like they were a part of the creative process again. According a survey done in the 1990's, women loved baking from scratch. It turns out this meant they started with a mix and a can of frosting to create the cake. It sounds like the definition of baking from scratch has evolved to mean starting with a mix instead of starting with all the individual ingredients.
So what do you think? Is it still scratch if you start with a mix?