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What is the origin of shake N bake?

Shake ‘n Bake is a packaged seasoned coating mix for chicken, pork chops, fish fillets, and other foods made by Kraft Heinz. The concept behind Shake ‘n Bake is to provide a fast, easy way for consumers to bread and season foods to be baked or fried without messy preparation. Shake ‘n Bake achieved widespread popularity after its national launch in 1965. But where did the idea for this convenience product come from? Here we will explore the origins and history behind Shake ‘n Bake.

The beginnings of coated and seasoned breading mixes

Coating meats and other foods in seasoned breadcrumbs or batter for frying is an ancient concept. However, the commercial concept of packaged predusted breading mixes emerged in the postwar era. As more women entered the workforce in the 1950s and 1960s, demand grew for convenient shortcuts for home cooking. Food manufacturers responded by introducing various prepackaged mixes and shelf-stable convenience foods to reduce preparation time.

One of the first major coated breading mix products was introduced by General Foods in 1952. Its Birds Eye Fish Sticks, invented by salesman Joseph Greci, consisted of frozen fish fillets with an attached layer of seasoned batter. The fish sticks took off in popularity as an easy freezer food.

Other companies also saw potential in preseasoned breader mixes. By the early 1960s, packaged seasoned breading products for frying chicken included Kentucky Colonel Chicken Mix, Dixie Fry Mix, and Morton’s Nashville Hot Chicken Coating Mix.

The development of Shake ‘n Bake

The specific inspiration for Shake ‘n Bake came from food scientist Ruth Siems in the early 1960s. At the time, Siems worked at General Foods, which had recently been renamed Kraft Foods.

While many breading mixes were already on the market, most required the user to dredge wet food through dry seasoning before baking or frying. Siems envisioned a product where the user could skip the messy dredging process and the ingredients would stick directly to the food.

To develop this idea into an actual product, Siems experiemented in her home kitchen by shaking paper bags filled with a seasoning blend coating and meat. Her idea was to separate the dry seasoning ingredients from the wet adhesive. The wet adhesive contained ingredients like lecithin or egg whites that would make the seasoning stick. By shaking the food and seasoning together in a bag, the coating evenly adhered to the meat.

Siems perfected her homemade shake ‘n bake recipes using different blends of spices and textures. She brought the concept to Kraft Foods, who loved the idea. Kraft launched Shake ‘n Bake nationally in 1965 with Siems credited as inventor. It was marketed as a “shake-to-coat” breader mix.

Original Shake ‘n Bake flavors

The original Shake ‘N Bake mix debuted in three flavor varieties tailored to different meats:

– Chicken – launched first in 1965
– Pork – launched in 1967
– Fish – launched in 1968

The seasoning blends sought to complement the natural flavors of each type of meat. Common ingredients included garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sugar, turmeric, dried parsley, dried lemon peel, black pepper, and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Popularity and growth of Shake ‘n Bake

Shake ‘n Bake was a nearly instant success after its launch. In 1966, just a year after debuting, it became the number one selling seasoned coating mix brand in the US.

Several factors drove Shake n Bake’s popularity:

Convenience – It reduced meal preparation to a simple shake in a bag for a preseasoned coating. This was innovative at the time.

Taste – The seasoning blends like lemon and spices were bold and appealing in flavor. This enhanced the flavor of boneless chicken breasts and pork chops, meats growing in consumption.

Marketing – Kraft Foods heavily advertised Shake ‘n Bake on TV and in print as the easy modern way to add flavor and crunch to meals. The marketing etched it into America’s consciousness.

Packaging – The bright yellow and white bag with the Shake ‘n Bake logo was eye-catching and recognizable on grocery shelves. The shaking instructions were right on the bag.

Versatility – Shake ‘n Bake worked for all kinds of meat and fish. Users also applied it creatively to vegetables and other non-meat foods.

By 1967, just two years after launch, Shake ‘n Bake had become the number one bestselling line of branded coatings in the US. It achieved over $100 million in annual sales by 1970.

Expansion of Shake ‘n Bake product line

With the runaway success of the original Shake ‘n Bake varieties, Kraft Foods expanded the product line:

Extra Crispy – Launched in 1967, this version used crushed corn flakes and rice flakes to give an extra crunch.

Lemon Pepper – Introduced in 1968, this complemented chicken and fish.

Cajun – Launched in 1981, this added spicy Cajun seasoning to the coating blend.

Parmesan – Launched in 2004, this gave a crispy Parmesan flavor.

Baked Recipe – Launched in 2012, this adjusted the blend for optimal baking instead of frying.

Gluten Free – Launched in 2016, this removed gluten sources like wheat from the ingredients.

Several coating offshoots were also test marketed over the years, like Ranch, Chili Lime, and Roasted Garlic Herb.

Shake ‘n Bake advertisements

Kraft Foods made Shake ‘n Bake a household name with memorable TV ads and catchy jingles. Some of the most iconic include:

– The original 1960s ad with the tagline “Shake ‘n Bake, and I helped!” targeted at kids who wanted to get involved in cooking.

– The 1970s ad featuring singing chickens and portraying Shake ‘n Bake as the “modern, easier way to chicken.”

– The 1980s ad with a fabricated Shake ‘n Bake song to the tune of The Four Seasons “Walk Like a Man” that got stuck in viewers’ heads.

– The 1990s ad with the Aaron Copland “Rodeo Hoedown” tune showing people happily shaking Shake ‘n Bake bags.

– The 2010s digital shorts featuring comedian Jim Gaffigan as a lazy dad relying on Shake ‘n Bake as the easy cooking shortcut.

These memorable ads reinforced Shake ‘n Bake as the quick ticket to flavor and fun. Kraft’s marketing made coating a chicken breast into a joyful experience the whole family could participate in.

Impact and legacy of Shake ‘n Bake

Shake ‘n Bake transformed the process of breading foods for an entire generation in America and beyond. Some key achievements and effects of Shake ‘n Bake include:

– Introducing the “shake-to-coat” method of coating foods that became widespread.

– Getting kids involved in cooking for the first time to “help” shake.

– Becoming one of the first hugely successful national convenience food brands.

– Sparking many other brands to offer their own twist on shake-to-coat breader mixes.

– Contributing iconic jingles and slogans to the annals of American advertising.

– Maintaining strong brand recognition and market share for over 50 years since its launch.

– Earning over $1 billion in lifetime sales as of 2015.

– Entering popular culture with references on TV shows and placements in movies.

– Eliciting nostalgia today for those who grew up with Shake ‘n Bake as a beloved staple.

While integrated breading mixes existed before, none had the popular appeal and broad impact of Shake ‘n Bake. It delivered on the promise of convenience, while also making preparation fun and engaging. Shake ‘n Bake’s smashing success demonstrated public appetite for easy shortcuts that did not sacrifice taste. It paved the way for many more convenience food innovations to come.


In summary, the origins of Shake ‘n Bake trace back to food scientist Ruth Siems’ innovative idea in the 1960s to create a seasoned coating that stuck to meat in a simple shake-to-coat application. Kraft Foods launched her invention nationally in 1965, and it quickly became the number one branded coating mix. Creative marketing emphasizing fun and flavor for the modern family made Shake ‘n Bake an icon. While prepackaged breader mixes existed before, Shake ‘n Bake was the breakthrough that popularized the shake-to-coat preparation method still used today. It revolutionized home cooking with its convenience, while engaging kids and enhancing flavor. More than 50 years since its debut, Shake ‘n Bake remains a beloved staple product and a testament to the ingenuity of convenient cooking solutions.