The most popular cooking show by year

Food Network’s first broadcast aired in 1993, but the history of televised cooking programs stretches back decades prior to that. Before television was invented, there were cooking programs on the radio. People have watched and listened as a variety of hosts taught them how to make dishes both simple and complicated since the 1920s. The history of these programs is a fascinating tale, and Taste of Home demonstrates with a compilation of the most popular food shows through the years

Cookbook covers

When radio was in its heyday there were programs of every type, including a cookery show – ‘The Betty Crocker School of the Air’ was broadcast from 1924 all the way through 1951. At first, local talent at each radio station would perform as “Betty Crocker,” but after NBC picked up the show in 1927 Marjorie Husted became the voice of Betty. Starting in the mid-1940s, the BBC cooking show hosted by Philip Harben, simply called ‘Cookery’, was king of the airwaves. ‘Cookery’ was the only televised cooking show for nearly a decade. 

The idea of a flamboyant host for a cookery program certainly predates Guy Fieri: Fanny Cradock, whose show ruled in the 1950s, was definitely a character. Of course Julia Child was queen of the airwaves in the early 1960s, paving the way for a succession of popular chefs and home cooks who had shows from the late 1960s through the 1980s. You’ll recognize most of the names here: legends like Graham Kerr, Delia Smith, and Jacques Pépin. The slideshow serves as an excellent reminder of the quality of televised cooking shows all the way up to the present day. 

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