The Cowbelles organized sixteen years before the creation of Lil' Dudette, in Douglas, Arizona, to "cement the good will and friendship among the wives and mothers of cattle men in Cochise County." (7) The women initially sponsored social activities for the local group including picnics and dances, but in 1949, the group began instituting a statewide organizational structure that focused on promoting the industry's beef products.
To do this, the Cowbelles adopted the image of Lil' Dudette to promote beef.
Lil' Dudette, then, symbolized one aspect of Cowbelle identity, while Connie Cook exhibited the broader Cowbelle identity.
Yet despite this appearance of inclusiveness, the Cowbelles appear to have embraced the symbolic power of white womanhood in their adoption of the Anglicized Lil' Dudette. Anglo women tended to compose the vast majority of the organization's membership, and a hegemonic whiteness swirled around the group.
Thus, we must return once more to the image of Lil' Dudette and the existence of Connie Cook.
Lil' Dudette fit well with one of the prevailing 1950s gender ideals for women which held that "true" women gained their primary fulfillment through the purchase and consumption of goods.
In 1953, the first national "eat beef" week was inaugurated, and the Arizona Cowbelles followed it with their own campaigns: "Eat Beef--Keep Slim" (inaugurated in 1953), "Lil' Dudette Eats Beef" (inaugurated in 1955), and "Beef for Father's Day" (inaugurated in 1956).
Lil' Dudette was important in this campaign in the middle of the decade, as she offered her ideas on recipe cards for how to cook the perfect pot roast.
The Cowbelles not only capitalized on women as consumers and as the providers of the family meals, they also used Lil' Dudette to promote beef as the perfect way to stay healthy.
Lil' Dudette and Connie Cook stand as perfect representations of this balancing act.
Lil' Dudette ads in Arizona Cattlelog, March 1955, 35-52.