How GBBO's Hollywood Handshake Lost Its Value

If you're a fan of "The Great British Bake Off," you probably already know that the most valuable currency for contestants on the show is a Hollywood handshake. The gesture is a signature move of the show's blue-eyed judge, Paul Hollywood, who from time to time gives out handshakes to bakers who turn out especially impressive cakes, breads, and other creations.

The gesture is so coveted, in fact, that there's a dedicated website with a list of every Hollywood handshake across 12 seasons of the show (and counting). Just some of the the 11 best Hollywood handshake moments include the judge's kudos to Henry Bird's kardemummabullar (Swedish cardamom buns) and Rahul Mandal's chocolate orange layer cake that melted a little in the hot tent but still stunned the critics. 

Still, this endearing move may have run its course and lost its value over the years, at least according to some Twitter users. For example, user Sam Simpson complained that "the Hollywood handshake economy is absolutely crashing," referring to the fact that Hollywood gave three handshakes in a single GBBO episode. Talk about "handshake hyperinflation!" But why is Hollywood giving out a few handshakes in one episode such a big deal?

Hollywood handshakes lost their value because they've been given out too often

Stephen Colbert recently invited Hollywood as a guest on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," and the two national treasures (American and British, respectively) baked bread from scratch together. While making braided loaves and promoting Hollywood's new book, "Bake" — which is chock-full of recipes for classic bakes both sweet and savory — they also chatted about Hollywood handshakes. 

Rolling out dough, Colbert asked the celebrity baker to address the "criticism that the Hollywood handshakes have been given out too much." Apparently, they lose their worth when displayed too often because "scarcity creates value," Colbert went on. Hollywood responded that his reason for giving more handshakes is that the contestants have gotten so much better at baking over the years — more than he ever expected. As Hollywood once told Mirror, "The problem is if I raise the bar any higher, I just won't give any handshakes out," adding that he might quit the gesture for good. To see whether or not Hollywood handshakes will truly become a rarity, we'll just have to wait for the next season of GBBO.