In 1923 a group of far-sighted Soft Wheat Millers Association members producing self-rising flour recognized that together they could make interesting advancements together. Collectively they sought to specifically address a rise in public concern regarding “chemical additives” used in flour and to promote home baking. The 1923 program surveyed wholesaler, retailer and consumer attitudes to determine program direction. A common seal or emblem of quality was designed for use on packages and in advertising. Other tactics included paid advertising; publicity to consumers, farm and medical publications, point-of-sale materials, recipe leaflets and direct mail inserts.
Ten years later, the ad hoc committee of the Soft Wheat Millers Association formed the Self-Rising Flour Institute as a regularly funded program. The organization welcomed “blenders” who were not millers, but marketers of brands. The program became incorporated in 1951 as the Self-Rising Flour Institute, Inc. With self-rising cornmeal also gaining significant home baking market share, a merger of these two interests was struck on December 15, 1959. The name of the organization was changed to the Self-Rising Flour and Cornmeal Program, Inc.
Then, as now, a not-for-profit corporation incorporated under the laws of Tennessee and classified by IRS Code 501 (c)(6). A significant nationwide decline in home baking began in the 1960s due to megatrend changes. Women began closing the distance on equality in the work force, family composition changed and with it meal preparation and eating patterns. Microwave ovens and fast food restaurants resonated with the crunch for time. The Program’s strategy united competitors to precondition and increase the total market for their product categories in a declining market.
In the face of these market challenges, the Program left Nashville, Tenn., and sought cooperation with the Millers’ National Federation in Chicago, Ill. The MNF, begun in 1903, shared their overhead costs and the Institute continued its regional education and promotion program directed at 17 southeastern states on behalf of self-rising flour and cornmeal until 1977. When the Millers’ National Federation reorganized and moved to Washington, D.C., the Program floundered in a sea of change. In the 1980s it became the last non-profit, generic communications program promoting baking at home.
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