Mildred Brown Schrumpf

Mildred Brown "Brownie" Schrumpf (January 24, 1903 – March 2, 2001) was an American home economist, food educator, and author. Named the "Unofficial Ambassador of Good Eating" by the Maine Department of Agriculture, she wrote a weekly food column for the Bangor Daily News from 1951 to 1994 promoting traditional Maine recipes. She was the main proponent of the claim that the chocolate brownie was invented in Bangor. She was inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame in 1997.

Mildred Brown Schrumpf
Mildred Schrumpf.jpg
Mildred Brown Schrumpf, c. 1989
Mildred Greely Brown

January 24, 1903
DiedMarch 2, 2001(2001-03-02) (aged 98)
EducationB.S. home economics, University of Maine (1925)
OccupationHome economist, food educator, food columnist
Spouse(s)William E. Schrumpf
AwardsMaine Women's Hall of Fame (1997)

Early life and educationEdit

She was born Mildred Greely Brown[1] on a farm in Readfield Depot, Maine, to Fred Brown and Nellie Mabel Gordon Brown.[2] She was a member of the Kennebec County 4-H club[3] and won a canning contest in her teens.[2] After graduating from Winthrop High School in 1921, she attended the University of Maine – the first person in her family to go to college – and earned a bachelor's degree in home economics in 1925.[2][1]


She began her career as a tester for home gas stoves for the Bangor Gas Company.[4] She next worked as an assistant leader in 4-H clubs statewide and as the Penobscot County 4-H club agent through the 1930s, updating home demonstrators on "food preservation, kitchen design and farm life".[4][5] In the 1940s she worked for the United States Department of Agriculture Extension Service, giving demonstrations and classes and also teaching "camp cookery to forestry students".[2] She also taught home economics classes at the University of Maine.[3][5]

In the 1950s and 1960s she became the Maine Food Products Promoter for the Maine Department of Agriculture, and also did cooking demonstrations on television.[5]

Food columnistEdit

Maine's reputation for good cooking was not built on mixes.

–"Brownie" Schrumpf[4]

Schrumpf began writing a weekly food column called "Brownie's Kitchen"[6] for the Bangor Daily News on August 31, 1951.[2] Each column opened with remembrances of life in 20th-century Maine and featured traditional recipes using simple ingredients that could be found in any Maine grocery.[2][7] Although she initially eschewed the use of ready-made ingredients, Schrumpf later printed recipes using convenience foods, which were included in her second cookbook collection, Memories from Brownie's Kitchen (1989).[4] She continued producing her column until April 4, 1994.[4]

"Bangor Brownies"Edit

A chocolate brownie

Schrumpf received widespread publicity for her claim that the chocolate brownie was invented in Bangor, Maine.[a] In its first edition (2007), The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink refuted her premise that "Bangor housewives" had created the brownie.[12] The Oxford Companion noted that while Schrumpf cited the inclusion of the recipe in the Girl's Welfare Cook Book published in Bangor in 1912 as proof of the brownie's origins, a Fannie Farmer cookbook published in 1905 already contained a recipe for the chewy chocolate treat.[12] However, in its second edition (2013), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America said it had discovered evidence to support Schrumpf's claim, in the form of several 1904 cookbooks that listed a recipe for "Bangor Brownies".[13]

Other activitiesEdit

Schrumpf served as a judge for the Bangor State Fair and the national Pillsbury Bake-Off. She chaired the Maine Boiler Festival Chicken Barbecues and Luncheons, and headed delegations of Maine food demonstrators to the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts.[2][4]

She maintained a lifelong association with the University of Maine and its alumni association, serving as class secretary for 40 years.[2] She provided many artifacts for the "Brownie's Kitchen" exhibit, a replica of an early 20th-century farmhouse kitchen, at the Page Farm & Home Museum on the university campus.[14]

Honors and awardsEdit

The University of Maine alumni association awarded her its Black Bear Award in 1957 and Pine Tree Alumni Service Emblem in 1974.[2][7] She was named Woman of the Year by the Maine Press, Radio and TV Women in 1968 and "Unofficial Ambassador of Good Eating" by the Maine Department of Agriculture in 1970.[7] She received a Kiwanis Recognition in Service Award from the Orono-Old Town Kiwanis chapter in 1976 and an Achievement Citation Award from the Maine chapter of the American Association of University Women in 1989.[7] She was inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame in 1997.[5]


Known for her lively and energetic personality, she was always happy to answer cooking questions and share recipe advice.[4][5] As she advanced in years, her birthday celebrations were well-attended affairs that were said to "require traffic control"; for one "birthday bash", a 20-person committee coordinated the event.[15]

She married William E. Schrumpf, an agricultural economist at the University of Maine Agricultural Experimental Station,[7] in 1932;[15] he predeceased her in 1976.[3] In her final years, she resided in a nursing home in Orono,[5] where she died on March 2, 2001 at the age of 98.[3]

The Brownie and William E. Schrumpf Papers, including her extensive collection of Maine community cookbooks and recipe pamphlets, are housed in the special collections department of the Raymond H. Fogler Library at the University of Maine.[1][7]


  • Memories from Brownie's Kitchen: A collection of recipes compiled over thirty-seven years (2nd ed.). Bangor Publishing Company. 1989. ISBN 0962389005.
  • The Flavor of Maine: Recipes in honor of the bicentennial. Bangor Daily News. 1976.
  • "Maine's Own: Baked Bean Recipes". Maine Department of Agriculture. 1951.


  1. ^ Numerous works erroneously credit Schrumpf herself as the inventor.[8][9][10][11]


  1. ^ a b c "Special Collections: Guide to the Brownie and William E. Schrumpf Papers". University of Maine. 2015. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Brownie Schrumpf, The First Foodie of Maine". New England Historical Society. 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Williams, Alixandra (5 March 2001). "Beloved 'Brownie' Schrumpf dies at 98". Bangor Daily News. pp. B1, B16. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Oliver, Sandra (21 October 2008). "'Brownie' biographer reflects on big subject". BDN Maine. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Cohen, Ruth-Ellen (24 March 1997). "Maine's Beloved 'Brownie' Honored". BDN Maine. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  6. ^ Haynes, Phyllis (4 November 1987). "Ongoing debate over authentic clam chowder". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Snell, Rachel A. (5 February 2014). "Fogler Feature: Mildred (Brown) and William Schrumpf Collection". Khronikos: The Blog. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  8. ^ Clegg, Jo-Ann (27 February 1998). "Brownie connection just doesn't pan out". The Virginian-Pilot. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  9. ^ Snow, Jane (30 April 2003). "Seeking the ultimate brownies". Akron Beacon Journal. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Nothing beats a brownie". The Age. 21 June 2005. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  11. ^ Sheraton 2015, p. 1202.
  12. ^ a b Smith 2007, p. 71.
  13. ^ Smith 2013, p. 220.
  14. ^ Edgecomb 1997, p. 40.
  15. ^ a b "Nourishing Community: Brownie Schrumpf's Birthday Bashes". Echoes: The Voice of Aroostook. Association of Aroostook Chambers of Commerce: 16–19. 1995.


Further readingEdit