Great British Bake Off Is Cashing In On Paul Hollywood's Famous Handshake

The twelfth season of the much-loved "Great British Baking Show" wrapped in November, and the winner, Guiseppe Dell'Anno, took home the big fat cash prize. Scratch that; there is no cash prize for these champions. According to The Sun, the winner of this televised baking competition for amateur bakers receives flowers and a cake plate. The title itself is the real prize, as being crowned champion can serve as a springboard into baking fame, and the fortune that hopefully follows. Apart from winning the whole thing, one of the most sought-after achievements bakers on the show can receive is the "Hollywood handshake," bestowed by judge Paul Hollywood, the last original cast member standing. This year's winner received two of the coveted hand-grabs — "The first time that he shook my hand, I almost broke into tears. It was difficult to keep it under control," Dell'Anno told Vulture.

This seismic shake didn't have much of a presence until season (or series, in Brit lingo) three, when just one was awarded. According to BuzzFeed, the gesture from the renowned baker was "as rare as a solar eclipse." The handshake's power escalated as the seasons progressed, and really took off in season eight, which (coincidentally?) was when the show moved from the BBC to commercial-driven Channel 4, a move that prompted the resignation of the show's other original judge, Mary Berry, as well as the show's original hosts, per the New York Times.

Quite a gesture

Paul Hollywood decided to stick with the show after it switched homes, because he, quite simply, loved the job. A trained sculptor, per his website, he followed his baker father into the family business, and dove all-in. The self-proclaimed "best baker in the business" likely didn't know that a simple gesture of appreciation would take on the status that it now has. There's even a website, Hollywood Handshakes, that keeps track of how often the coveted expression takes place on the show. Is it really golden? Ask Nadiya Hussain. She had her hand squeezed by Hollywood in season six and went on to achieve food fame, even being selected to bake Queen Elizabeth's birthday cake when the revered monarch turned 90.

Does Hollywood revel in the power his handshake wields? The show's production company, Love Productions, apparently does, as they have trademarked it. Yep, per The Sun, what started out as a simple gesture of recognition from a baker on a baking show has become a "job well done" accolade that will soon grace products that are deemed worthy. The list of brands that will don the signature seal of approval is large and growing larger; it's apparently being slapped on food processors, knives, skateboard, computer games, even underwear. Think the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, only glitzier. In the era of social media saturation, branding is everything, to the point that even a handshake from a baker can go from thoughtful gesture to marketing tool.