A lot of you have been asking me, “Bob” you say, “how did you come up with the award-winning and fabulously successful reality TV cooking show “Dark Pastry.”
To date, my natural gift for modesty has kept me from spilling the beans on the cooking/horror reality show but so many urban legends and out-and-out lies by a very jealous POTUS have forced my hand.
Is it my fault that my reality show has been so much more-fabulously successful than his ever was?
Yes, it is my fault.
Gather ’round, little ones, and with your parents’ permission, I shall tell you the one true origin story or the reality show that changed the face of reality shows for all time to come.
I’ll be honest. The concept for the show began when I was a young lad living in an old Dutch colonial in a distant suburb of Buffalo, New York. In those days nothing struck terror in my heart like the words coming from mother’s kitchen, “Bobby, be a dear and run down to the basement and get me two jars of stewed tomatoes.”
“Yes, Bobby. Now. You want dinner tonight, don’t you?”
The basement was a perpetually dark and damp place that held terrifying things, like an industrial freezer filled with cuts of meat. The pantry was shelf after shelf filled with jars of pickled, preserved, and lubricated things which to me could only be human body parts in mid-experiment. A massive bunch of bananas hung from a beam, twisting in the still air, like a despondent poet.
This doesn’t begin to address the dark corners — and the two rooms off the main cellar that were too dark and mysterious for even adults to enter. I’m pretty sure that the rooms had been sealed off since the early 1900s and contained the moldy bones of young kids, sent down there by their moms to grab a couple of jars of stewed tomatoes.
Things moved in the shadows. Grotesque earthen smells assaulted my senses as I crossed the room. There were slitherings. Sudden changes in temperature. Creaks and groans from the void.
A kid could get lost down there, fall into a wormhole, a crack in the concrete floor, and never be seen again, except when parallel universes accidentally crossed wires. A kid in that parallel universe might even get stuck in the walls of the dining room, able to hear his seven brothers and sister enjoying a delicious meal made with stewed tomatoes.
My father was a strong believer in the power of the basement. Acting up at the dinner table — his sacred space — sometimes resulted in banishment to that hellhole.
“Finish your dinner in the basement.”
But not worse than actually carrying your half-finished dinner to the top steps and having the door close behind you.
Sitting on that top step, an inkwell sea of darkness below, who knew what creatures might smell the bit of pork roast left on your plate and begin crawling up the stairs? Slowly, slowly, slowly toward you. Lizard scales scraping against wooden steps. Steps that creaked under the weight of pure evil.
“Mom! I’m ready for dessert!”
You minded your manners after a dinner like that.
Perhaps you recall that seminal moment in “Dark Pastry” when we first sent a contestant — I forget his name — into the basement for a cup of flour.
That’s right. He never came back!
That has become our signature dismissal. How the audience loves it when we send people to the basement. And, later, when that barely audible scream was inserted — well, pure catharsis for the fans.
Having our judges drive little wooden stakes through the heart of an especially terrible contestant’s confections really, if you’ll pardon me, drove the point home.
What? No. Not the pastry. The act was delicious.
The pastry was as dry as the Sahara.
As fans know now, my appreciation of the British technology/horror program “Black Mirror” was inspirational in creating “Dark Pastry.”
As I said to myself, “What if a contestant received a text message in the middle of the show saying that his kids had been kidnapped and to save them, he must do some incredible embarrassing act while making a bichon au citron?
And it grew from there. Nightmares and baking are kindred souls, as we have all discovered.
But I think what separates our reality cooking show from others is the little personal acts of sabotage we encourage among cast members. Points for originality!
Of course, we sincerely urge competitors to inflict as little bodily harm as possible. Otherwise, it would all be over in several episodes. Wouldn’t it? Ha! Ha!
But as you know, when it comes to undermining others, humans rise to a level of creativity and stealth that is stimulating to watch. Blending psychological horror with making pastries is, may I modestly say, pure genius.
Our “I spy pastry cams” have caught hands turning up oven temperatures, dropping larvae into flour bins, switching salt for sugar, and even rewiring mixers for a moderate electrical shock.
Trying to guess who sabotaged who is almost as much fun as turning out extraordinary pastries under stressful conditions.
Audiences appreciate that the stress carries on far beyond the kitchen.
Having all our contestants stay in this rather ancient, dark, and drafty German castle in which we house our kitchen set has opened up all manner of underhanded and inexplicable behavior.
You can tell which contestants stayed up all night in their rooms, guarding their lives against unknown assailants — supernatural and otherwise.
Oh, the rings under their eyes! As delicious as a twirled cinnamon bun!
These shows practically write themselves.
Which is why we’re moving on. Next season “Dark Pastry” will be only one in a series of offerings from Dark & Delish Productions.
Look for “Dark Desserts,” “Dark Meats,” “Dark Dinners,” and “Dark Take Out.”
In the meantime, dear fans, stay out of the basement!