A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 24, 2009
Bake-Off

The first Pillsbury “Bake-Off” (then officially titled the “Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest") took place in 1949 at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The name “bake-off” is trademarked by the Pillsbury Company, although the word is entered in the Oxford English Dictionary. Local organizations—usually nonprofits, such as schools and churches—have used the word “bake-off” for their baking competitions. However, there is a “bake-off” citation that was published in a newspaper on January 20, 1948—a year before Pillsbury’s contest.

“Bake-off” is a newer term than “cook-off” (cited from the 1930s).


Wikipedia: Pillsbury Bake-Off
The Pillsbury Bake-Off is a cooking contest, first run by Pillsbury Company from 1949 to 1976 as an annual contest. Since then, the contest has been held biennially.

History
The Grand Prize in the first contest — then called the Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest and hosted in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel — was $ 50,000. The winner of the 2008 contest held at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel took home a million dollars.

The only required ingredient in the early contests was Pillsbury’s BEST Flour. There was no contest in 1965 because the contest was moved from October to February.

Since 1996, the Grand Prize has been $1 million. The first $1 million prize was won by a man, and that year 14 of the 100 finalists were men.

Until 2002, CBS televised the event. Hosts have included Arthur Godfrey (1949–1950s), Art Linkletter (1960’s), Bob Barker (1970’s), Gary Collins (1980’s), Willard Scott (1990–1994), Alex Trebek (1996–1998), Phylicia Rashad (2000) and Marie Osmond (2002). The television airings were produced by Mark Goodson Productions. Bob Barker was the first host to have a male category champ in 1978. Willard Scott & Marie Osmond also had male category champs (1990 & 1992 for Willard) while Alex Trebek had the pleasure to witness history when Kurt Wait won the 1996 Bake-Off.

Pillsbury - The Bake-Off Contest
A Celebration That Continues
In 1949, the Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest began as the “Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest,” set in the elegance of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. To celebrate Pillsbury’s 80th birthday, executives at the company’s advertising agency created the contest and invited homemakers to share their treasured recipes. Response was so great that Pillsbury decided to hold it again the following year, and the year after that, until it became an institution.

A New Name is Coined
Almost immediately, the media dubbed the Grand National the Bake-Off® Contest. The name fit so well that Pillsbury adopted it as the contest’s official name. And the rest is history--50 years of American cooking and baking.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
bake-off, n.
Chiefly U.S. and Austral.
[< BAKE v. + OFF adv., after PLAY-OFF n. Cf. COOK-OFF n.]
A baking competition, esp. one between non-professional contestants. Also in extended use. Cf. COOK-OFF n.
1949 Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Press 1 Dec. 3/1 In a grand final bake-off at the Waldorf-Astoria, Pillsbury Mills will award $150,000 in prizes.
1965 Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 18 July 22/2 The Bake-Off..attracts national attention as the greatest recipe quest in this country.
1987 G. KEILLOR Leaving Home (1989) 113 The bake-off was part of the afternoon grandstand program.
2003 Guardian 26 June (Life section) 25/1 In a series of ‘bake-off’ tests between Apple and Intel systems, Jobs showed the G5 system completing a variety of graphical tasks well ahead of its Intel-powered rival.

30 January 1948, Sandusky (OH) Register-Star-News, “Pie Baking Event Set For Saturday With Local Entry,” pg. 12, col. 5:
Miss Jones won the right to represent Fremont by winning a “bake-off” to break a three-way tie between herself and two seniors.

29 October 1949, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), sec. 2, pg. 2, col. 3:
Flour Contest
Signs Eleanor

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt will present the winners’ awards in Pillsbury’s 80th anniversary recipe and baking contest at the Waldorf-Astoria December 13. The contest closes at midnight, October 31.

The top 100 contestants will compete December 12, all at one time, onm 100 electric ranges in the final all-day bake-off.

10 December 1949, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Six Texas Women Go to New York For Baking Tests,” section 2, pg. 7:
Six Texas women, including two from Dallas, left Friday for New York City where they will compete in a bake-off Monday for a $50,000 prize. They are among 100 women selected from entries in a Pillsbury Flour nationwide contest.

13 December 1949, New York (NY) Times, “News of Food” by Jane Nickerson, pg. 46:
Yesterday the 100 finalists in the Pillsbury National Recipe Contest took over the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, turning a room favored for autmobile shows and debutante balls into a fragrant, friendly kitchen. Results of what Pillsbury termed “the Bake-off” will be announced today at a luncheon on the hotel’s Starlight Roof, when Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt will present nine awards ranging from $500 to $50,000.

12 December 1951, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, pg. 31, col. 1:
...her Starlight Double Delight Chocolate Cake that won the grand prize in the Pillsbury Mills third national bake-off contest…

(Trademark)
Word Mark BAKE-OFF
Goods and Services IC 035. US 101. G & S: COOKING CONTESTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROMOTING THE CREATION OF NEW RECIPES. FIRST USE: 19500000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19500000
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 72354774
Filing Date March 23, 1970
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0938249
Registration Date July 18, 1972
Owner (REGISTRANT) PILLSBURY COMPANY, THE CORPORATION DELAWARE NUMBER ONE GENERAL MILLS BLVD. MINNEAPOLIS MINNESOTA 55426
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record JOSHUA J. BURKE
Prior Registrations 0871348
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20020509.
Renewal 2ND RENEWAL 20020509
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

(Trademark)
Word Mark BAKE-OFF
Goods and Services IC 016. US 038. G & S: COOK BOOKS. FIRST USE: 19580000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19580000
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 72283029
Filing Date October 20, 1967
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0871348
Registration Date June 17, 1969
Owner (REGISTRANT) PILLSBURY COMPANY, THE CORPORATION DELAWARE 1343 PILLSBURY BLDG. MINNEAPOLIS MINNESOTA 55402
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 19890617
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Tuesday, February 24, 2009 • Permalink