‘Halloween Baking Championship’ Fans Complain About John Henson’s Absence

While Food Network‘s primary focus is cooking shows of the traditional sense, the network began including more baking shows in recent years.

From reality shows about the inner-workings of a high-profile bakery to competitions about the taste and design of elaborate cakes, the shows have developed a cult-like following. One of the staples of the network is the annual Halloween Baking Championship.

The absence of staple John Henson, however, has some fans calling foul. 

Food Network takes the cake

Comedian John Henson
Comedian John Henson | Lloyd Bishop/NBC

Perhaps the biggest predecessor to the current slate of baking shows was not a competition show, but a reality show akin to those one sees on Bravo or E! According to DelishAce of Cakes was the wildly successful show that gave an inside look at Charm City Cakes, a high-end bakery with locations in Baltimore and Los Angeles.

However, as the network shifted away from shows like this and into more competitive shows, the baking shows changed. 

Baking offers unique challenges that are far different than those seen on staples such as Iron Chef and Guy’s Grocery Games. Instead of fast-paced and cutthroat competition, patience is the key to an effective baking show, meaning that the bakers aren’t able to do the non-stop additions and subtractions that they can in cooking shows. 

With every holiday season, the Network offers a new take on the baking show. However, one of the fan favorites is Halloween Baking Championship, which returned in 2020, albeit with some aspects that the fans didn’t appreciate. 

What is ‘Halloween Baking Championship’?

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An offshoot of the winter-inspired Holiday Baking Championship, the Halloween version has bakers from across the country bake treats that are both spooky and delicious. The show has seen a who’s who of staples from both Food Network and beyond.

Over the first two years alone, the show had two separate hosts in Richard Blais and puppet comedian Jeff Dunham. In 2017, it found a winning formula by casting John Henson as the host.

According to Food Network, Henson has been a staple of television for several years. Beginning as a stand-up comic, Henson first made waves on E! ‘s hit show Talk Soup, which kicked off a long career as the host of several shows of many genres.

Outside of occasional acting work, Henson’s strange sense of humor goes perfectly with shows like Wipeout, which has contestants go through an obstacle course designed to make the bulk of them fail hilariously. 

After leaving the hit ABC show, however, Henson moved on to Halloween Baking Championship, and for three years, he provided some consistency for the ever-changing program. This year, however, the network went in another direction, and fans weren’t pleased with the results. 

A new ‘Food Network’ era

A common complaint about several of Food Network’s smaller shows is the lack of consistency. Hosts, judges, and formats can change at the drop of the hat, and when the formula was already a winning one, this rubs fans the wrong way.

While many of the comments on Reddit were about the apparent ways in which the show was practicing social distancing, some honed in on the hosting. 

Carla Hall has been on and off of Food Network for several years. Her quirky style, which came from her stint on Bravo’s Top Chef, works wonderfully with the whimsy of the Halloween-themed baking show.

However, Hall has often been used as a judge or co-host, and many find her current job a little bit outside her wheelhouse. User tbone56er echoed the sentiments laid out by several other posters.

“I don’t mind Carla as a judge but didn’t quite care for her as a host. Hopefully she grows on me but I definitely miss John Henson.”

Whether it is an aversion to change or a case of Food Network needlessly changing another show, Hall is yet to resonate with fans. If history repeats itself, this could mean that the 2021 season could see another change.

However, if Hall is given the right amount of time to grow and flourish in the role, perhaps the fans will have a change of heart.