GBBO: Here's why Bake Off is called The Great British Baking Show in the United States

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There is a sensible reason behind Bake Off being known by a different name in the US.

The Great British Bake Off has a wide appeal, not just to UK audiences but to those across the pond too.

American fans have been able to enjoy Bake Off in their home country since 2015, when TV network PBS began broadcasting the show.

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However, there was one key change made for US audiences. Instead of keeping its original UK name, The Great British Bake Off became The Great British Baking Show.

But why was the change necessary?

This is why Bake Off has a different name in America

Essentially, it all comes down to copyright.

The term “Bake-Off” is a registered trademark of The Pillsbury Company, an American firm which sells products such as cake mixes, cookie dough and pastry.

To celebrate Pillsbury’s 80th birthday, the company’s marketing team introduced the “Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest” asking bakers from across the country to share not only their best recipes using the brand’s flour, but the stories that went with them. With a $25,000 grand prize and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt helping award prizes, the competition was a resounding success.

There have been countless winners and millions of dollars in prize money awarded since the very first Pillsbury Bake-Off, so it’s no wonder the company decided to trademark the term.

But it did present a problem when the popularity of The Great British Bake Off became clear and fans began clamouring for an American release.

Thus, The Great British Baking Show was born.

Is the show's name the only change?

While the only real difference between the UK and the US version of the show is the name, because it came down to a copyright issue there have been some tweaks to what audiences see.

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The show’s opening credits are changed, but there are more subtle edits made to the show as a whole too. While announcing the winner, typically the hosts will say something along the lines of: “And the winner of The Great British Bake Off is…” but in the American version this will be cut to skip out the phrase Bake Off entirely.

Whether it's recording two separate opening takes or editing audio to cut any mention of "Bake Off", the US version changes more than the name. Image: Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions/Channel 4Whether it's recording two separate opening takes or editing audio to cut any mention of "Bake Off", the US version changes more than the name. Image: Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions/Channel 4
Whether it's recording two separate opening takes or editing audio to cut any mention of "Bake Off", the US version changes more than the name. Image: Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions/Channel 4 | Mark Bourdillon

In addition, hosts will record an alternate opening take for US audiences, shots will be cropped to get rid of any possible “Bake Off” references and even the cake stand awarded to winners is digitally edited in post-production to avoid any copyright infringement.

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So while it seems like a minor change on the surface, Brits who tune into an episode of The Great British Baking Show may find themselves slightly confused. YouTuber Captain Disillusion has made an excellent video on the subject with clips to demonstrate the differences.

In addition, there are also some discrepancies between the series numbers. PBS aired series three of Bake Off – which saw John Whaite win – as season five, then filling in the gaps out of order.

The collection available on Netflix in the US is slightly better organised but still does not match the correct broadcasting order of The Great British Bake Off, with the UK’s series three marked as The Beginnings and series 13 known as Collection 10 in the US.

Now wondering if there’s an American version?

Yes, there is an American version of Bake Off. There was The American Baking Competition in 2013 which, despite enlisting Paul Hollywood, failed.

However in 2015, ABC created The Great American Baking Show which has proven successful even recruiting Mary Berry to judge for two seasons, with the 2022 series - now on Roku -even managing to nab Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith as judges.

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