A column I wrote earlier this week from Las Vegas, while covering the 46th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off, mentioned former winner Mari Jane Petrelli, of Las Vegas, who was the 1966 grand prize winner with her recipe for Golden Gate Snack Bread when the contest was held that year in San Francisco and hosted by singer Pat Boone.
Petrelli, who attended Monday's contest with her son Jon Petrelli, said her prize check was presented to her at the 1966 contest by "Ann Pillsbury," the fictitious character created for marketing purposes in 1944 (much like the dreamed up Betty Crocker) and designed to represent the members of the Pillsbury Home Economics Department and Test Kitchens.
After my column published, Jon wrote me to correct the name reference he shared, and to inform me who actually presented the winning check to his mother, since it was NOT Ann Pillsbury.
"Mr. Potempa: It was Eleanor Pillsbury who awarded my mother the $25,000 Grand Prize check in the 1966 Bake-Off. Yes, my mistake, in telling you it was Ann Pillsbury. Anyway, I thought it was a great article...until I got to the end. Thank you, Jon Petrelli"
Jon even sent a wonderful vintage photo of his mother receiving the award check from Mrs. Pillsbury. (I love the ruffly, bow-laden Pillsbury Flour apron Jon's mom is wearing for that year's apron design for contestants, as well as the fact her name badge identifies her as "Mrs. John Petrelli" rather than using her own first name.)
I should also note at the time Jon's mom won, the grand prize awarded was $25,000. Then, as the contest moved to an "every other year schedule," the grand prize became $50,000 until 1994. Since 1996, the grand prize has been $1 million.
As mentioned in my column last Sunday, C.A. Pillsbury and Company was founded in 1872 by Charles Pillsbury and his uncle, John Pillsbury. John Pillsbury's son, John S. Pillsbury, built the Southways Estate on Brackens Point in Minnetonka, Minn. in 1918 and used it with wife Eleanor as a summer retreat. By 1930, it became a permanent residence for The Pillsbury Family. It wasn't until 1991, when Eleanor died at age 104, that the estate was sold for the first time. The property is now on the market for sale once again.
The 13-acre estate includes seven structures including the main house, a caretaker's cottage and greenhouse, garage, pool complex, smoke room and tea house. The 32,461-square-foot main house has nine bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, formal rooms, hearth room, sunroom, library, family room, conservatory, game/billiard room, gym, playroom and large wine cellar. Owned by the Pillsbury Family for 95 years, it was previously priced at $54 million and is now reduced to $24 million.