Pillsbury debuted its Bake-Off competition in 1949. Housewives around the country perfected and submitted their best family recipes. The only requirements seemed to be corny dish names and the inclusion of a Pillsbury product, such as all-purpose flour or prepackaged biscuit dough, which was introduced in the early 1950s. The one hundred best recipes were then published in the yearly cookbook. While these annual collections of prize-winning recipes are pretty indistinguishable from one another, this particular volume (of the ones I've looked through) seems most definitive of its time period -- the late 1960s. Published in 1967, the '18th Annual Bake-Off Cookbook' promotes both the busy modern woman and the homemaking ethic. From its foreword: "The way in which these recipes are prepared has changed just as dramatically as your life as a homemaker has changed from that of your grandmother."
I'm not sure what the top prize was back then, but this year (the 42nd year of competition) it was $1 million! If you're interested in the modern cooking contest culture, there was an interesting article over at Slate on this topic.
(Click on photos to enlarge!)
1. Front cover
2. Scenes of housewifedom
3. Vichyssoise Feather Fans, Ol' Virginny Lemon Tea Cake, Cape Cod Loaf (with oysters!)
4. Corny Islands - looks like dried brains!
5. Peachadillies - won Corniest Name prize
6. Caballero Casserole - This is made with Hormel Tamales and 'cheese sauce mix.'
7. 'Fortune's sausage wheel is ever turning.' Also: Hot Turkey Hustle Up!
8. Fisherman's Luck and Tijuana Hash - Both sound unsettling and possibly illegal.
9. "The Works" Casserole - If the name doesn't send you running, maybe the fact that it looks like something floating in battery acid will!
10. Oriental Shrimp Sandwich Roll - It can sense your fear (and probably see out of that eye)!
11. Bachelor's Bake - made with potato flakes, Spam, and cream cheese!
12. General Electric P7 Self-Cleaning Oven Range in lovely avocado green - Isn't it time you owned an Americana?
EDIT: As a matter of course, I discovered that the winner of the first Pillsbury Bake-Off was Theodora Smafield of Rockford, Illinois. Her winning recipe was the No-knead Water-rising Twists, and the top prize was $50,000, which was surely a lot of money back in the 1940s!