DOUGHBOY OBSESSION – PART 2
The day that the semi-finalist recipes were placed online was an amazing day. There is nothing quite like seeing a photo of a recipe that you created on Pillsbury’s website. I kept going back to the website just to look at the picture. It was beautiful and it was mine! Well, technically it now belonged to Pillsbury, but in my heart it was mine. They had changed the name from French Toast Waffles with Apple Berry Compote to French Toast Waffles with Apple Cherry Topping. I liked my name better, but hey…I could deal with it.
A couple of days after the semi-finalists were announced, I received a packet in the mail from Pillsbury which included an official Pillsbury apron that had to be worn for all media appearances and a questionnaire that we had to complete ASAP. The information on the questionnaire would be used to create a profile of me if I were chosen as a finalist. This questionnaire was a doozy. I filled it in as honestly as possible while throwing in a few (what I thought to be) funny answers here and there. Little did I know that this would come back to haunt me.
The packet also included a certificate for a photo session that had to be done at our nearest JC Penney store and a USB jump drive where we were to download a personal video and return it to Pillsbury. All of this would be used if I were named as a finalist. We were asked to return our video and official portraits no later than September 24th, which was less than two weeks from the time I received the packet in the mail. Two weeks seems like a long time when you’re waiting for an email from Pillsbury, but it’s a crazy short time when you have 5 kids, a house that is never silent, basketball and volleyball tournaments, school, and life in general. Thankfully, I have a husband who was as excited, if not more excited than I was. He took the kids out for a couple of hours one evening so that I could tackle the video. I want to make one thing clear right now. I cannot make a video to save my life. The questions we were required to answer were tough. Seriously tough.
What inspired you to enter the Bake-Off Contest? Umm….money.
What was the inspiration behind your recipe submission? Money?
Why should your recipe win? Because I want the money.
You get the idea.
The Friday after I received my packet, my husband was off work for my kids’ ball tournaments. Our closest JC Penney was at a mall in Little Rock…an hour away. I knew I didn’t want to carry all 5 kids down there by myself, so opted to race down to Little Rock in between ball games while hubby was around to help with kids. You can tell by looking at my “official” photo that I had had a rough day. I looked tired, my hair was a wreck, thanks to good ol’ Arkansas humidity. But, I got the picture done without any thought of where that thing might show up.
The informational packet I received also included an official press release. I got to work right away right away filling in the blanks and sending press releases to every newspaper, tv station, and online media source in the state of Arkansas as well as media outlets where I grew up in Montana. I contacted local business owners that I knew and asked if they would be willing to hand out flyers. For several days there was no response. I was beyond frustrated. I just didn’t get it. Didn’t these people realize what a big deal this was? A couple days later, friends from Montana started emailing and sending me notes on Facebook letting me know that a story ran about me in the local paper. Wouldn’t you know that people I hadn’t lived near for more than 15 years would show their support for me when it really counted. I was a little emotional about the whole thing. The outpouring of support from classmates, friends, acquaintances, and even former rivals in central Montana was overwhelming.
That article kept me going for the rest of that week while media in Arkansas was virtually silent. I just didn’t know what else to do to drum up interest in the Bake Off ….in me. I was running out of time. There was no way I was going to dig up enough votes to get through. In a desperate, last minute attempt, I contacted a lady I used to make cakes for who also happens to own two Sonic Drive-Ins in our area. I shamelessly asked if they would be willing to give out flyers with their orders. She said they’d be happy to. I printed off hundreds and hundreds of flyers and spent a good chunk of my grocery budget on ink for my printer. This is where the “Doughboy obsession” part comes in. I was literally consumed with doing everything I could to make it to the finals. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
With one week of voting left to go, I was feeling as if I had exhausted all of my resources when I got a call from my sister who lives in Minneapolis. She had just received a text from a friend of hers in Little Rock who said that one of the local morning radio shows was talking about me and asking people to vote for me. I ran to the computer to listen to the radio show online. By the time I logged in, they had moved on to another topic. Oh well. It was publicity! I’ll take what I can get.
I came up with an idea to host a Virtual Voting Party on Facebook. I invited all of my friends and encouraged them to invite their friends, and so on. It was a way for me to keep track of the support which I hoped was translating into votes. It also allowed me to keep those who were truly interested up to date on my Bake Off news.
The next day I got an email from our local newspaper. The editor said that they’d love to run a story about me in Friday’s paper. I told him as nicely as possible that voting closed on Thursday so an earlier publication would be helpful. No can do. It was Friday or not at all. So much for local support. I made the front page of Friday’s paper. Little picture. Short story. A day late.
After voting closed, my emotions were a wreck. Had I done enough? Were the other semi-finalists doing the same? I scoured the internet for any publicity other semi-finalists had received. There was very little. The waiting was killing me. I kept preparing myself for rejection and the embarrassment I would feel if I didn’t make it through. When I entered the Bake Off I didn’t realize that the voting would be such a major part of the contest. It was brutal. I felt as if I were selling my soul for a trip to Sin City. Seemed fitting, somehow. I vowed that if voting was a part of future Bake Off contests, I was out.
Finalist notification day was almost here. Finalists recipes were going to be posted online by Thursday, October 3rd, one week after voting had closed. I checked my email around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon, not expecting to find this:
Doughboy Obsession Part 6