When you sign up for the Pillsbury Bake-Off, you’re signing up for one of the biggest emotional roller coasters you’ll ever experience. It starts the moment that first recipe idea is born. You stress over every ingredient and measurement. You make notes on napkins and junk mail when a new recipe idea hits you. Money, lots and lots of money, is spent on those infamous blue tubes. Some of us buy them simply to have them on hand when inspiration strikes. When a great idea hits, you may or may not spend hours scouring the internet to make sure your recipe is truly original before putting it to a kitchen test. Some bake, tweak, and bake again until a recipe is perfected. Or, you might give up on a recipe if it doesn’t turn out the first time and move on to a new idea.
When a recipe is good enough to be typed into that sacred entry form, the emotional stress is just beginning. From the moment you hit “submit” on your first entry until the day finalists are notified, you will be second guessing every little thing about every entry. You’ll be re-reading every recipe wondering if you should have used a different ingredient or method of preparation. You will most likely have that one entry that is your favorite…that recipe that you want to compete with. If you’re trying to get in for your first or second time, you may have submitted a couple of back-up entries…just in case. If you are trying to get back to the Bake-Off for your 3rd and final time, your entry (most likely just one) has been well thought out, tested and tried, and written to perfection. You only want to compete with your absolute best recipe and don’t want to risk having to compete with something less than your best.
When the wait is finally over, the coveted correspondence is received…or not received. If you are one of the finalists. you won’t be able to share the news for weeks while eligibility is verified and paperwork is signed. This part is complete torture. After weeks and months of waiting to find out if you’re one of the lucky 100, the last thing you want to do is keep it quiet when you finally get that email or phone call. Since spreading the news prematurely could put you at risk for disqualification, you hope that none of your Facebook friends ask you point blank if you’ve made it through. We all know there’s no easy way to answer that question.
If you are a Pillsbury Bake-Off hopeful this year, it should be comforting to know that this ride is almost over. But, you’re about to hop off this roller coaster to get in line for another. If you’re chosen as a finalist, the next four months will be spent practicing your recipe and preparing for a trip to Nashville. All the while, you’ll be assessing your chances at the Big Money. Most likely you’ll be online scoping out the competition, especially those competing in your category since every finalist has a 1 in 25 chance at $10,000.
If you don’t get that long awaited phone call, you’ll feel emotionally spent. You’ll question whether you want to try again next year. You’ll be frustrated that all of the time and money you poured in to your entries was for naught. More than likely, you’ll eventually decide that you love the Doughboy enough…that you have so much respect for the Pillsbury Bake-Off that you’ll start dreaming up recipes for next year and try again.
One thing is for certain, we are all willing to put ourselves through this emotional stress because it’s worth it. It gives us a brief reprieve from our normal, every day lives. It gives us something to dream about. It gives us something other than politics to talk about over dinner. It gives us something to look forward to. And, if you make it to the Bake-Off only once, you will forever be a part of Pillsbury Bake-Off history. It’s something no one will ever be able to take away.
To all of the Bake-Off hopefuls, I wish you all the best and hope to see you in Nashville! Should I not make the cut this year, you can guarantee that I’m going to start working on next years’ entries…..right after I’m done cheering you on…..