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The Pudding Contest
What is a Pudding?
The term pudding is used in many ways in many places - and we want to leave it that way for the purposes of this contest. Many puddings are made with milk and eggs; many are steamed. Many are neither. Some puddings (plum puddings, upside-down cake puddings) are desserts; others (steak and kidney pudding, corn pudding) are main courses or savories. Basically, if you call your dish a pudding, you may enter it in the contest.
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 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 Days are anything to judge by, it will be!
The Sons and Daughters of Hawley
The Sons and Daughters of Hawley are the historical society of Hawley, a tiny town with a population of 300-odd souls nestled in the hills of western Massachusetts. Started more than 100 years ago, the society brings together Hawley's diverse population - the farmers, carpenters, teachers, and telecommuters who make up a typical New England town. It sponsors a number of yearly events, including the annual town celebration known as Hawley Day. The Sons and Daughters hope to increase the range of community activities by using the old church and neighboring buildings as a performance space, a venue for community suppers, and a repository for historical materials. Thanks to the generosity of a number of merchants who are underwriting the costs of the Pudding Contest, each entry fee goes directly to the building project.
If you have questions about the contest, the eligibility of recipes, or the Sons and Daughters of Hawley, please send an e-mail to email@example.com
Prizes and Donors
This project has been funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as administered by the Charlemont/Hawley Cultural Council.
Many thanks to the terrific companies and individuals who have donated funds and prizes to support the Pudding Contest.
Pudding Contest Sponsors for 2008:
Our Fabulous Luncheon Donors:
The Donovan Farm, Hawley, Massachusetts
A 2-quart stainless saucier from All-Clad Metalcrafters
A 3-quart triply stainless chef's pot and matching soup cups from Calphalon
A burr coffee maker and grinder from Cuisinart
A carving set from Lamson
A gingko cutting boardfrom the Kitchen
Store at J.K.
A gift certificate from Big Y Supermarkets
A dessert pan for two for each finalist from Chicago Metallic
Maple syrup from Chickley Alp Farm in Hawley, Massachusetts
A gift certificate from the Ciesluk Farm Stand
A basket of seasonal fruit from Clarkdale Fruit Farm
A gift basket from Curtis Country Store
Maple syrup from Davenport Maple Farm
A gift certificate from the Deerfield Inn
Eggs from Diemand Farm
Gourmet organic potatoes for each finalist (plus potatoes for lunch!) from Donovan Farm in Hawley, Massachusetts
A pint of Sherbetter for each finalist from Gaga's
A gift certificate from Mike and Tony's Green Emporium Pizza Parlor
A Vermont breakfast crate, plus a coffee sample for each finalist, from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Local goat cheese from Goat Rising
Maple syrup from Gould's Sugarhouse
A pint of ice cream for each finalist (it could be Sticky Toffee Pudding flavor!) from Häagen-Dazs
A coffee maker and espresso maker from Krups
A decorative plant stand from LiAsia Art & Antiques and its store, LiAsia
Schmear filling for each finalist from Love 'n Bake ingredients by American Almond Products
A measuring spoon rack from metalsmith Marian Ives of Hawley, Massachusetts
Graters from Microplane
Sauces from Myron's Fine Foods
A product for each finalist from Newman's Own
Sticky toffee pudding cake mix from Nordic Ware
Maple syrup from North Hadley Sugar Shack
A gift basket from Old Sturbridge Village
A floral arrangement from Plants for Pleasure
A gift certificate from Richardson's Candy Kitchen
Horseradish products from Saw Mill Site Farm
Spices from the Shelburne Falls Supermarket in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts
Coffee from Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters
A medium Norwalk pitcher from Stephen Earp Redware
Maple syrup from Thatcher's Sugarhouse
A goody bag from Trader Joe's
Woven Indian placemats from Tregellys Fiber Farm
A copy of "The Authentic Italian Kitchen: Pasta" for each finalist and judge from Tuckaway Farm
Maple syrup from Wilder Brook Farm in
Foster's Supermarket in Greenfield, Massachusetts
Here's a look at the 2008 Pudding Contest Finals:
Hawley's selectmen made this official proclamation in 2004. They also presented the Sons & Daughters of Hawley with a plaque praising the historical significance of pudding to the town - and declaring June 20, 2004, Pudding Day in Hawley.
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