Fannie Farmer

A remarkable entrepreneur

For years, I’ve baked the same marble cake recipe from an old Fannie Farmer paperback. Never thought much about it.

Until today.

Fannie Farmer

On January 7th, 1896, a revised, modern edition of The Boston Cooking School Cookbook published.

Fanny Farmer listed each ingredient separately, and instructed how to correctly measure everything. She used a scientific, precise method of measuring, never before used in recipes.

Imagine the amount of time required for recipe testing during this undertaking!

Her publisher, Little, Brown, and Company wasn’t convinced that the book would sell. So they asked Fannie Farmer to pay for the printing of 3000 copies. Self-publishing! This granted her copy rights, which was lucky, since the book was a huge success and made her quite wealthy.

The latest (13th) anniversary edition is still in bookstores.)

Some information about Fannie Farmer.

  • As a result of a stroke while still in high school, she wasn’t able to seek higher education
  • After recovering, she learned to cook and took over domestic duties of the household.
  • Later, she enrolled at The Boston Cooking School. Upon graduation in 1889, at age 32, she became Assistant Director.
  • At 37, she became Director of the Boston Cooking School
  • In 1896, at age 39, she tweaked and republished the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. Later she published several other cookbooks.
  • In 1902, she left to open her own school, Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston. The school trained housewives and nurses in cooking and was in business until 1944.
  • In 1905, she wrote articles for Woman’s Home Companion magazine, until her death in 1915.

Fannie Farmer didn’t let anything stop her.

She found something she loved and pursued it with passion. She wrote books, ran a school, opened another school, taught, and gave lectures. (TED talks of her day?) She was a cook, a baker, a writer, a businesswoman, and a publisher. Fannie Farmer was an entrepreneur. And all before 1915.

Despite another stroke near the end of her life, she continued to teach and lecture. Nothing stopped her.

And so I bake marble Cake. But from now on, it will be a little more special. I’ll think of the remarkable Fanny Farmer, and her many accomplishments.

 


 

 

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