Who was Ernest Dichter? (the man who changed egg industry history)
Ernest Dichter,a psychologist,changed the face of the
US egg industry and yet few know who he was.
The flour industry introduced cake mixes in the 1930's
but they didn't sell well until after World War II.
Consumption of flour was dropping and the main cake
mix manufacturers were puzzled. They turned to a
marketing psychologist to solve it for them.
Ernest Dichter was the man who revolutionized
marketing by inventing the focus group. He gave them
the failing brand of Betty Crocker Cake mix and asked
them to free-associate. He discovered that housewives
were feeling guilt about the ease of life delivered
by convenience foods.
What did he do? He told Betty Crocker to add an egg to
the recipe. Allow the housewife to crack an egg into
the cake mix and, to her, she would feel she was doing
something of value for her family. Sales of Betty
Crocker Cakemix went through the roof.
But some think that it was more symbolic of what was
happening in the egg industry at the time (the
1950's). The dried egg was extremely 'off flavor' due
to being made from eggs that were not so fresh and
were not pasteurized. Military people had been
complaining during WWII about 'green eggs' which was
true in that the eggs were sometimes questionable in
flavor and look due to being off flavor. But old
timers have told me that also part of the problem was
drying technology wasn't too good at the time and eggs
receiving too much heat ended up being off flavor. It
should be noted that egg white powder didn't have the
same problem and angel food cake mixes to this day
contain egg white powder but the other mixes still
call for the consumer to add an egg.
If Ernest Dichter had been a food scientist and
figured out the freshness problem and drying
problems,we might have seen the dried egg industry
grow quicker but he was a psychologist and explained
the problem in psychological terms. Consumers were
taught to use shell eggs and to this day it continues.
So the shell egg industry should salute Ernest Dichter
whose suggestions have ended up with the sale of
millions of shell eggs each year. Either way, the egg
industry owes him thanks.
Dean Hughson,THE EGGMAN