Is it about time to drop the First Lady cookie bake-off?

Every four years, while the presidential candidates are battling over the nation's future, their wives have a little contest of their own

Michelle Obama
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The story: This week, Family Circle announced that First Lady Michelle Obama's white and dark chocolate chip cookies had won the magazine's quadrennial Cookie Bake-Off, beating Ann Romney's M&M cookies by a mere 287 votes. Family Circle's tradition stretches back to 1992, when Hillary Clinton caused something of an uproar by mockingly stating that she should have "stayed at home and baked cookies" instead of pursuing a career. Clinton was accused of showing contempt for stay-at-home moms, and she subsequently participated in Family Circle's contest with First Lady Barbara Bush to show her domesticated side. Since then, the bake-off has come to be known as a "bellwether baking contest," predicting four out of the last five presidential winners.

The response: "Why the f—k are we still making the candidates' wives bake cookies?" says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. "With women ascendant in both parties, how much longer will Family Circle magazine gamely nudge the spouses of presidential candidates back into the kitchen for some good old fashioned Mom-ing?" And the Family Circle contest has proved controversial in other ways, says Mellisa Locker at TIME. The only time a losing candidate's wife has won was when Cindy McCain nabbed the trophy in 2008 — but "rumors swirled that McCain had cheated by copying a recipe off a Hershey's box." Still, just because the contest seems inherently sexist, doesn't mean it will disappear. "The 2008 contest also included its first would-be first gentleman, President Bill Clinton," says Kristen A. Lee at the New York Daily News. His oatmeal cookies, however, failed to impress voters.

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