Passionate cooker Emmy Lou McClean celebrated 98 years of life on Saturday, Aug. 8th.
McClean, who has resided at The Vantage at Cityview for nearly three years, started baking in the sixth grade. She entered a cake in a local county fair baking competition and won! She was forever hooked, and eventually turned this childhood passion into a career.
One of her first jobs was working in a cafeteria for a war supply manufacturer in Kansas City, Kansas which she found interesting. At the end of World War II, her good friend, William “Bob” McClean, who would later become her husband, and his family moved to Minnesota. While Bob was attending the University of Minnesota, Emmy Lou was still in Kansas at Kansas State.
With Bob at the university, she answered an ad in “Home and Gardens” magazine for a home economics position at the Betty Crocker test kitchen in Minnesota. She figured she could be closer to Bob and pursue her passion for baking at the same time.
“I just love to cook!,” McClean says today with excitement. She would work for the food company, testing new cake mixes and visiting consumers in their homes to observe and teach them how to cook.
She also provided feedback to the marketing department for ad campaigns to promote various cake mixes, home appliances, and steam irons the company sold.
“I shared with them what would make a good ad, what message [would be good] for wedding cakes, birthday cakes and children’s cakes. The company would bake new food items and then let us take the leftovers home for our families to test,” she said.
The family later moved to Vista, Calif., and she continued to work for Betty Crocker. She baked Angel food cakes for “The George Burns and Gracie Allen” Show and the “Crazy Allen” show.
“I baked for the Don McNeil Breakfast show sponsored by General Mills, It was a lot of fun,” she added.
One of her favorite cakes is Bird Sugar Cake. Another of her favorites is a chocolate layered cake with whipped cream and chocolate frosting.
McClean and her husband wed in 1948 and celebrated 42 years of marriage. The couple was blessed with two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
When asked about a most memorable life event, McClean recalled watching the astronauts land on the moon.
“Everyone was excited that the USA was the first to reach the moon,” she said.
Her faith in God is very important to her, and she advises, the younger generation to have faith and to read the Bible daily.
She said life goes by fast, and she has enjoyed spending time with family and cooking. A frequent family request of hers to make – homemade pecan rolls.