The now and then postings of the discoveries and contributions of the Miller and Bechtold families .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trivia: The Original Hawley Pudding Contest

Bechtold ancestors Timothy Baker and Abigail Kibbe started something fun...

The Original Pudding Contest

Not much is known about the pudding contest that inspired this one. Hawley's first (and until now its only) culinary event took place in the late 18th century. Here is what historian Louise Hale Johnson wrote in her History of the Town of Hawley (1953):

In the primitive days, probably before 1780, Mrs. Baker, wife of Timothy Baker, was matched against another woman, to see which would make the largest hasty pudding. Mrs. Baker made hers in a five-pail kettle, and came out triumphantly the "pudding head" of Hawley.

"Pudding Head" Abigail Kibbe Baker and her husband Timothy moved to Hawley in 1772 from nearby Sunderland when she was 22 and he 24. The contest probably took place in the eight years between their arrival in town and 1780. Not much is known about the contest; Hawleyites would love to have the name of the other contestant, or Abigail Baker's winning pudding recipe. Nevertheless, the sheer practicality of the event, which highlighted a nourishing staple of daily New England life and emphasized the ability to feed a crowd, has appealed to generations of Hawley residents. It is immortalized in the name of the neighborhood in which the Bakers lived, Pudding Hollow. (the topo map)

The Pudding Contest today!

The 2010 Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival will take place on Saturday, October 30, with pudding entries due a little before 11 am as they were last year.

The current contest emphasizes quality rather than quantity: there will be no prize for the largest pudding, and contestants are urged to leave their file-pail kettles at home. Nevertheless, the Sons and Daughters of Hawley hope that this year’s contest will prove as memorable as its 18th-century predecessor. If the last few Pudding Festivals are anything to judge by, it will be!

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