“100 Prize-Winning Recipes” cookbook subtitled “From Pillsbury’s $100,000 Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest.” Published by Pillsbury Mills, Inc., the cookbook is a soft cover measuring 5¾ x 8¾ inches with 96 pages. The cook booklet is in fair used condition, the covers have quite a bit of wear (the back cover has a piece of duct tape on it?) but the pages are clean and unmarked.
Do you know Mrs. Ralph E. Smafield from Detroit, Michigan? Mrs. Smafield was the first winner of America’s first Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest held in 1949! Harry Truman was president. Soldiers had returned from the war in the Pacific and Europe, and women moved from their wartime jobs back to full-time homemaking. The rationing of sugar from the war had ended and women started baking up a storm. During that time, there was a feeling of celebration in the air. Over at Pillsbury, the president of the company, Phillip Pillsbury, felt like celebrating, too. He wanted to recognize the unsung heroes of the kitchen and reward them for their culinary talents and do it at one of the most glamorous places in the country at this time, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The competition was announced, and the Pillsbury Bake-Off was born, bringing the 100 best cooks in America to the Waldorf to compete for $100,000 in prize money.
The contest was first known as the “Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest.” Entries for the Grand National poured in from all over the country. Many of the people selected had never left their home state, never been on a train, or even stayed in a hotel. Imagine how they felt on December 13, 1949, being showered with such luxuries as being served breakfast in bed, a luncheon of pheasant under glass, with the opportunity to meet former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and television and radio personality Art Linkletter. It was like a dream come true – and it still is today. This is the first cookbook published, with recipes from that 1949 contest. It contains all 100 winning recipes using Pillsbury’s Best Flour including Mrs. Smafield’s Grand Prize winning recipe “No Knead Water-Rising Twists.” She entered her sweet and tender nut rolls and won the grand prize of $50,000, a huge amount of money in 1949. That amount of money could buy a house AND a car, with some money left over! Other prize-winning recipes included $10,000 for “Starlight Mint Surprise Cookies,” $4,000 for “Aunt Carrie’s Bonbon Cake, and $1,000 each for “Jonquil Sponge Cake,” “Chocolate-Crusted Pie,” “Mount Vernon Dessert,” “Deauville Dumplings,” “Sea Foam Nut Squares,” and “Crusty Dinner Rolls.” Such a great piece of history and full of good recipes, first in a series that continues today!
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