This is a story with everything: fast women, battling families, revenge – and, best of all, chocolate cake.
It’s 1938. Paula and her new husband Donnie (a Zeppoesque mummy’s boy, from the look of things) have just got off the train to go live in his hometown. And her new mother-in-law is right there, waiting to pounce, in a coat made of Kermit the Frog (who seems to have been the previous object of her disdain) and a Robin Hood hat. And she is glaring at Paula like she was pond scum. Uh oh.
You see, Mother Dear had already picked out a nice bride for Sonny: Nan Blaine from down the street. “She can cook,” Mother Dear muttered as Paula sashayed down the steps.
Anyway, it just so happened that the big church social was coming up. And there would be cakes on display there. The cakes were all-important. They would be judged. And the quality of those cakes had a direct moral correlation with the cake-makers’ kin. The Tell Tale Cupcake!
Mother Dear just knew that Paula was going to disgrace the family with some sort of hussified mess. Why, land sakes, she’d probably be daydreaming over a copy of Photoplay, and mix in a jar of mustard by mistake (or else because Hot Dan was her culinary advisor, in which case the mustard would be absolutely on purpose).
Well, what do you think happened?
This is an ad for Baker’s Chocolate, so we know things are going to end in a chocolate-induced haze of happiness. Yes, Paula’s cake was not a terrible mustard-laced culinary travesty, but was in fact the most magical thing the townsfolk had ever, ever tasted! Better even than Miss Perfect Nan Blaine’s cake! And after just one bite of that cake, Paula’s Kermit-slaying mother-in-law was slobbering over her like she was a delicious ice cream sundae. Paula just lowered her eyes and beamed modestly, the hapless Donnie at her side looking cluelessly happy – but you know that she won’t forget the way Mother Dear looked daggers at her. No, she won’t. Wait till the family tastes her next surprise dessert.
[From Life, February 7, 1938. You can see the big version here, which includes not only the mother-in-law's snappy first-person story, but also Paula's recipe for Golden Cream Chocolate Cake, which is pretty much a Boston Cream Pie made with chocolate cake layers.]