You will be forgiven for being confused by the title. Crisco is not the generic term for shortening, which is solid fat used to make pie crusts another pastries. However, Crisco may be the only brand of shortening you’ve seen. When it first launched in 1911, it was one of several brands of shortening, a product developed to replace lard for baking and frying. The reason Crisco became the dominant brand is a story of marketing.
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For decades, Crisco had only one ingredient, cottonseed oil. But most consumers never knew that. That ignorance was no accident.
A century ago, Crisco’s marketers pioneered revolutionary advertising techniques that encouraged consumers not to worry about ingredients and instead to put their trust in reliable brands. It was a successful strategy that other companies would eventually copy.
(Image credit: Science History Institute)