bake-off oven
Nov 16, 2020 • By

Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest history comes home

Every kitchen contains treasured memories.

From years of family meals, batches of cookies and birthday cakes – all made with love.

The General Mills Archives recently received a donation that really brings that to life. A “Stratoliner” electric range, with a special connection to the company’s past.

A special Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest prize comes home

A “Stratoliner” range from 1949 is the latest – and maybe the largest – personal donation to the General Mills Archives.

The range was won by Laura Rott, as the runner-up in Pillsbury’s first Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest in 1949 (it would later be named the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest).

laura rott oven

Relatives of Laura Rott, outside the General Mills Archives, with the “Stratoliner” range she won at the first Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest.

Ads in magazines and newspapers for the Stratoliner touted its “Push-button controls!” And Automatic G-E “Speed Cooking!” at “a price you can afford!”

Rott, from Naperville, Illinois, was 31-years-old when she competed against 99 other finalists at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt looking on.

laura rott 1949

Laura Rott, right, with Philip Pillsbury, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Art Linkletter (1949)

Rott’s Starlight Mint Surprise Cookies recipe earned her $10,000 – and the range – and a host of memories of the contest that she often recalled for relatives.

We shared more of Rott’s connection to the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in 2018, when the The Pillsbury Doughboy attended her 100th birthday party. 

When she died in September, at the age of 102, her family contacted the General Mills Archives to see if we wanted the range she won.

laura rott oven

“I was just really shocked by the gratitude. And just the idea that somebody would hang on to a stove from 1949 for so long and take such good care of it,” says Natasha Bruns, archivist, General Mills. “I think this really showcases the importance of the legacy of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest on the families who participated.”

Rott’s relatives also graciously donated the vintage apron that she received and wore at the contest, which she kept tucked away in a drawer in her home.

bake-off apron

Editor’s note: Learn more about the history of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, here.

Learn more about our history on or in our History category.

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