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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just Like Mom

I’m going to begin today’s blog entry by asking all of you a couple of questions.  Don’t worry, they won’t take too long to answer, and you will not be graded on your answers.

Here’s the first question.  How many of you remember being in the kitchen with your mother helping her make something edible?  Did you help her prepare breakfast?  Did you help stir the soup while your mother prepared the pork chops?  Did you help frost freshly-baked cupcakes with your mother and end up eating half of the frosting yourself?

In my case, I remember “helping” my mom out a lot when it came to her making various baked goods.  To this day, my mother remains one of the best bakers I have ever known (and even though she’s in her mid-60s now, I still encourage her to open up a bakery, as she’d have a little gold mine on her hands).  She can make chocolate chip cookies, brownies, apple pies, chocolate cakes, banana bread...all from scratch!  She is absolutely amazing.

Of course, when I say that I “helped” her, I ended up doing tasks that didn’t really seem like helping.  Usually my contribution was licking out the bowl used to mix the cake or brownie batter.  But you know, it was a fun experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

And this leads to my next question.  Would you believe that there was a children’s game show that aired in Canada in which one of the challenges of the show was to bake something? 

Have a look for yourself.

That was a clip from the Canadian television series “Just Like Mom”, which aired on CTV from 1980-1985.  A total of 595 episodes were taped, and reruns aired as recently as 2010 on Canadian cable channels.  The show was created by Catherine Swing, a former Miss Canada winner, and actress who co-hosted the show the entire run.  I have absolutely no idea if the show aired in the United States or not, but in case it didn’t, consider this your introduction to the program.

I’ll get to the reason behind the bake-off in a few minutes, but for now, I thought that I would describe the format of the show, while watching some clips from an episode at the same time.

But before I go on, I would like to state something.  With the exception of one clip posted, I purposely chose clips that featured the first host, Steven Young.  Although Steven Young only hosted the program from 1980-1981, I am NOT a fan of the second host, Fergie Olver.  At the time, Olver and Swing were married to each other, but they have since got divorced.  And the reason why I decided not to post any clips of him in action is because I found him to be a bit on the...creepy side.  Since I want this blog to be mostly positive in nature, that’s all I’m at liberty to say, but I’m sure that if you type in the words “Fergie Olver” on YouTube, you’ll see what I mean. 

Then again, it was the early 1980s.  Who knows what was acceptable then?  I’ll let you make your own judgment.

At any rate, the host was the only change in 1981.  The game format stayed the same the show’s entire run.

The game was played almost like the “Newlywed Game”, only instead of a bride and groom you had a boy or girl who went on the show with their mother.  The moms were sent into seclusion while the children were asked a series of questions by the host.  In earlier seasons, the kids could select a question from one of five choices, but in later seasons, a question was assigned to each of the three teams.

When the moms returned back to the soundstage, the host asked them the very same questions that were asked to their children.  If the mother’s answer matched their child’s, they would win points for their team.  Two question rounds were played in each episode, and depending on the round, questions would range in value from ten to twenty-five points.

In between the two question rounds was the part of the show that this particular blogger liked watching the most.  And, you’ve seen a clip of it in action above.

The bake-off.

The bake-off was hosted by Catherine Swing, and took place inside a kitchen set.  The three children, decked out in aprons and chef hats, were given a recipe from a cookbook.  The recipe was read aloud by Swing, and for reference, a copy of the recipe was kept on hand for each of the children.  The recipes were more often than not baked goods, which included bread, cookies, and pastries. 

Here was the catch.  The children only had a minute (some episodes had a 90-second time limit) to prepare the recipe.  I don’t even know a whole lot of moms who would only take sixty seconds for preparation time.  My mom needed at least fifteen minutes alone.  So, you can just imagine how hectic the bake-off was.

Oh, and there was also one more thing.  Producers made sure that all of the ingredients and cooking utensils were present so the child could follow the recipe exactly.  But, they also included some bonus ingredients that did not belong in the recipe, such as orange soda, pickles, spaghetti sauce, and marshmallows.  And contestants were told that they could use whatever was in front of them.

So, as you might expect, some of the concoctions that were created were kind of...well...unique.  Here’s an example below of what I mean, and fair’ll need to crank the volume to full blast to hear it.

It’s true what they say...Gatorade goes with anything.

Once the mixture was done, they were placed in the oven to cook while the second question round went on.  After the completion of the second round, the “delicious” treats that the children baked were offered to the mothers, who looked at them with a mixture of pride and terror.  Each mother got a sample of each dish, numbered from 1-3.  Each mother had thirty seconds to sample each dish, and make their choice as to which dish they believed was made by their own child.  I tell you, some of the reactions of the mothers were priceless, and I get the feeling that some were upset that they were only given one glass of water to wash everything down!

The mothers had to hold up a numbered paddle to announce which dish they thought their child had made.  If the mother guessed correctly, the team was awarded fifty points.

At the end of the game, the team that had the highest total would be brought to the bonus round.  In that round, the child would be asked by the host to spin a gigantic prize wheel.  The wheel had sixteen spaces on it, with each space corresponding to a prize.  In most cases, the prizes were related to the sponsors of the show, so you’d have prizes from Robin Hood flour, Chuck E. Cheese pizzeria, or Playmobil Toys.  But there were four spaces that had Walt Disney characters on it, and if the child was lucky enough to land on one of these spaces, they would win a family vacation to Walt Disney World.  Later seasons would give all contestants a trip to Camp Onondoga regardless of whether the team won the game or not.

And, that’s your look at one of the quirkiest, funniest (and some might say creepiest) game shows that ever came out of the Great White North.  I hope you all enjoyed it. 

If anything, watching the clips of that old show takes me back to those days when I was a child, licking the sides of the mixing bowl while my mom baked brownies and chocolate layer cakes.  Those were the carefree days that I think I miss the most.

Actually, you know what, even though I’m almost 31, I bet my mom would STILL let me lick the mixing bowl! J

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