Sunday, March 13, 2011

Never Fails on Baking Day!

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

So says the first slogan of Clabber Girl Baking Powder. Our mother was a baker (when she could sneak a little time away from farm chores) and we have many memories of homemade bread, doughnuts, and cookies. In these modern times of fast food and convenience items, our younger sister, Peggy, continues in our mother’s footsteps, baking everything she can from scratch.

In the spring of 2009, Joann and I took our annual photography trip to the Ohio River Valley. During my research before the trip, I had found a sign outside Terre Haute, Indiana, for Clabber Girl Baking Soda. I didn’t remember having the brand in the kitchen growing up, but it looked like a cool sign, so I decided we should pass the sign on the way to or from Ohio.

Unfortunately, we ended up getting a late start on the first morning of our trip. We had planned to make it to Richmond, Indiana, just west of the Ohio border, by the end of the day. With our late start, however, we knew we couldn’t make it that far. We ended up stopping at a small motel with a vacancy sign in Brazil, Indiana, and true to our ways, it was pitch dark as we unloaded the car.

We hadn’t seen the sign on the western edge of Terre Haute, and it was too dark when we came out of town on the eastern edge, so seeing the sign at the beginning of the trip was out. On the way back from Ohio, I planned to pass through Terre Haute again. Driving into town on Highway 40, we found the sign.

Then, on our trip to North Carolina in the spring of 2010, we found another Clabber Girl sign, this time on the front of the Old Hampton Mill.

In the mid 1800’s, baking powder was made from a mixture of baked fireplace ash and sour milk called “clabber.” Herman Hulman was the creator of the new baking powder formula which was originally known as Clabber Brand. The packaging used a photo of a girl, and eventually the name was changed to Clabber Girl.

In my research for this blog post, I discovered that in the early age of the automobile, Clabber Girl had also been advertised on barns. In our travels along the back roads, we’ve seen barns with tobacco advertising and miscellaneous advertising for stores. Now I can only wish somewhere, on an old highway, there is a barn with a faded Clabber Girl advertisement.

If you’re passing through Terre Haute, Indiana, home of Clabber Girl, stop at the Clabber Girl Museum or enjoy a treat at the Clabber Girl Bake Shop, both located in the historic Hulman Building, built in 1892.

Happy Shunpiking!

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