DECEMBER 15, 1949
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—I went to a luncheon on Tuesday in New York City at the invitation of Philip W. Pillsbury, president of Pillsbury Mills, which was advertising on a grand scale but at the same time had a very healthy human touch about it. It was the finals of the national recipe and baking contest at the Waldorf-Astoria that brought women from 37 states, the District of Columbia and Alaska to New York on a trip financed by the Pillsbury company. They were a very happy and excited group of people.
There were $1,000 awards in six categories for the best bread maker, cake maker, cookie baker, etc., but it was for the three big awards that every woman sat on the edge of her chair waiting to find out who the lucky one would be. Those who got the six awards in the various classes were happy, indeed. But I think Mr. and Mrs. Pillsbury must have felt quite proud when they gave out the other prizes, because it is given to few people in this world to give such great happiness to other human beings.
It is a pleasant thing in itself to have the journey and the fun of a baking contest in the Waldorf, and every woman did her baking in a General Electric stove, which she will take home with her. As a by-product, Mrs. Ethel Hansen, from Anchorage, Alaska, who has been a missionary there, saw her brother from Hartford, Conn., whom she had not seen in 36 years. That in itself must have been worth the trip, and more, to her. It must be exciting, too, to see some of your favorite radio people in the flesh, instead of just knowing their voices over the air.
The really tense and moving moment came when Mr. Pillsbury and I went down to the little platform in front of the raised dais where we had lunch and the announcement of the prizes was begun. Third-prize money—$4,000—went to Mrs. Richard W. Sprague, of San Marino, Calif. Her winning entry was named "Carrie's Creole Chocolate Cake." She was asked what she would do with the money and answered: "Well, the baby is paid for but there is still the mortgage on the house."
Then came the announcement of the second prize—$10,000. That went to one of the few unmarried contestants, Miss Laura Rott, of Naperville, Ill. Her entry was "Mint Surprise Cookies." I was assured by those who sampled them as they came out of the oven that though they might look like ordinary cookies they tasted like your dream of something highly delectable. Miss Rott was speechless. She could hardly stand up and she had no idea what she would do with the money. She never thought of having so much money at one time in her hand.
Finally came the announcement of the $50,000 prize. It went to Mrs. Ralph E. Smafield, of Detroit, Mich. Her entry was "Water-Rising Nut Twist" and we were each given a bite. It certainly is delicious. Tears were in her eyes as she was asked what she was going to do with her prize. She did not hesitate: "We will have a home of our own at last." Her husband is an electrical engineer. A home of their own seemed to be a dream which she had long cherished.
This is a healthy contest and a highly American one. It may sell Pillsbury flour but it also reaches far down into the lives of the housewives of America. These were women who ran their homes and cooked at home; they were not professional cooks.
I almost forgot to say that three men got the trip to New York by qualifying and one man won with an entry which he called "Quick Man-Prepared Dinner."
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Pillsburys.