Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Hi, Neighbor!

Radio was a solid cornerstone in the building of the success of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM business. Many of the people Mom worked with in that industry said she had a great “radio voice”. While, Mom had appeared on some pretty famous television talk shows, over the years, to discuss and demonstrate her fantastic make-alike recipes for fast food, junk food, fine-dining dishes and grocery products – shows such as PM Magazine, The Phil Donahue Show (twice) and The Home Show; plus, some local (Detroit) talk shows – she really felt more “at home” when she was being interviewed on radio talk shows across the country and internationally. Mom found the audiences of the radio talk shows that she was on to be the most receptive audiences.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES: …Recipe DetectiveTM is the name that was given to me by my radio friends, years ago, because I was able to investigate the secrets of the food industry and come up with workable recipes for imitating their special dishes and grocery products. For nearly 20 years [at that time, 1970-1989], I’ve been writing about these recipe secrets and sharing them with the readers of our cookbooks and newsletter and thousands of radio listeners, across the country; sometimes… the world! – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 23)]

RADIO has become one of the biggest blessings in our work – and my ‘recipe visits’ came about as a result of my initial work with Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show…

I found [radio’s] family of listeners [to be] just like neighbors on our street, friendly and receptive! – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 58 & 59)]

On one of the very first pages of Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018), which I helped her to rewrite for the new digital generation from her favorite, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983), is a “thank you list”, dedicated to some of the stations, talk shows and their hosts, spanning across the country from sea to shining sea; as they had, probably, contributed the most positive ripples to the growing success of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM, up to that time (1972-1982).

However, Mom’s relationships with radio talk shows and their hosts went on for more than 32 additional years, when she was forced to give it up for health reasons. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to extend Mom’s “thank you” notes to include some other radio stations, talk shows and hosts with whom she came to know and be friends, following this first list (below); which was originally printed in 1982.

The experiences we have encountered in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio [and television] broadcasting and newspaper exposure…

I have met some of the nicest people in the world, some of the most generous people who want to share their good ideas with me as much as I want to share mine with them. Of these good people, I will speak often and lovingly. – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)]

Mom always wrote about her radio visits in all of her publishings – even including her up-coming radio schedules in her newsletter issues, so that her readers in those areas could tune in. Nowadays, you can “tune in” to just about any show, from anywhere, via the internet! Thus, wherever possible, I am including links to the stations and/or hosts, if I can find them. Sad to say, like Mom, many of the hosts, for whom I’ve searched, are no longer with us.

Since I began these blogs to honor Mom’s legacy, I’ve been hearing more and more from people, through social media and emails, who remember her – expressing their own fond memories of Mom. That, in itself, makes what I’m doing with my blogs all worthwhile!I’d like to personally thank everyone (as well as on behalf of Mom), for being such great friends, fans and supporters!

The following “thank you” notes are from page 4 of Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018), with additional excerpts found, mostly, in My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989); as well as some other publishings, where Mom has mentioned these stations, shows and hosts as well.

Sad to say, as I searched for links to some of the names below, I found that many of them, like Mom, have passed on as well. Our condolences go out to all their surviving friends and families – and may they all be resting in peace.

It is as much a thrill for me, today, to hear somebody… request that ‘Gloria, The Secret Recipe Detective’ try to duplicate a recipe, as it was for me a decade ago when it all began. – Gloria Pitzer (May 1982) [*NOTE: That thrill continued to remain with Mom, for many more decades, until she passed away in January 2018.]

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

THANK YOU, AGAIN, TO…

…Bob Allison & his “Ask Your Neighbor” radio program, formerly on WWJ-Radio (Detroit, MI) and WEXL-Radio (Royal Oak, MI; 1340 AM). Now, you’ll find Bob on WNZK-Radio (960 AM; Detroit, MI) with his son, Rob Allison. The “Ask Your Neighbor” show has been broadcasting since 1962!

[Thank you] for your moral support and interest in my research and development of recipes that imitate restaurant and commercial food products. You’ve been a great friend over the years! – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

“ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR!” – I called [Bob] frequently with answers to his other listeners’ recipe questions, until I became ‘a regular’ on the show. With Bob’s generous help in mentioning my monthly newsletter, my subscriptions began to climb… I was finally showing a profit! That gave my husband, Paul, some relief from his skepticism that I would eventually outgrow my obsession with writing… From Bob Allison’s listeners alone, Paul and I had received over 1,000 letters in one day! [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)]

Art Lewis and his “Listen to the Mrs.” program [and cohost, Sue Smith,] on WSGW-Radio in Saginaw, MI – which has been on the air since 1952…; and also to Fred Krell [RIP], program director at WSGW-Radio, who had originated the early “call-in” talk shows, “Listen to the Mrs.” and “What’s Your Opinion?”

[Thank you, all, for being great friends over the years! – Gloria Pitzer]

Mom with Sue Smith at WSGW-790, Saginaw MI

…Warren Pierce of WJR-Radio (Detroit, MI) and “The Warren Pierce Show”, which has been on the air since 1976! Also…Bob Hynes and Jack Mindy, each, of WJR-Radio fame (Detroit, MI).

Warren Pierce…was one of my first radio friends with whom I would visit on the air regularly, giving out recipe secrets from the food industry…we found that the listeners’ responses to the famous “make-at-home” recipes prompted some very interesting challenges…my visits, on the radio, with Warren Pierce are still among my favorite experiences in my recipe investigations. I would rather do a radio show with Warren, in fact, than television with anyone else. [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 254)]

[Thank you] for putting me in touch with some of the most responsive and enthusiastic listening audiences. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

…Jim White [RIP], Ann Keefe [RIP] & Art Fleming [RIP] of KMOX-Radio, St. Louis, MO –

[Thank you] for all the great years we visited on the air, sharing secrets of some giants in the food industry with your nationwide audience. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

 …Some of the radio shows that I took part in were on-the-air at midnight, especially my favorite visits with KMOX in St. Louis and WGY in Schenectady. [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 54)]

Gloria Pitzer 1985

Bob Cudmore of WGY-Radio, Schenectady, NY [1980 to 1993 night time talk show host for “Contact”… and to his predecessor Bill Miller!]

…for whose listeners have become good friends over the many years of our radio visits with your wonderful audience…[Thank you!] – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

ONE OF MY FAVORITE radio visits, on a monthly basis (and sometimes more often than that) was with a Schenectady station [WGY]. Originally, I worked with Bill Miller, whose…show [called ‘Contact’] drew a good following. It was because of Bill’s interest in the nuns of St. Claire, an order in New York state, who baked a delicious cheesecake and sold it to raise money for the poor, that I was first asked to duplicate the recipe…It was a real challenge. Eventually, however, we did come up with our own version and it was a divine experience, which I called ‘Blessed Cheesecake’.

Bill Miller left WGY and was soon replaced by Bob Cudmore, who had [previously] worked with me… at a Pittsfield, MA station. I continued on with ‘Contact’ for a long while, until…around Christmas of 1988. [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 60)]

Ralph Story [RIP fellow Michigander] of KNX-Radio (1070 AM), Los Angeles, CA. AlsoJackie Olden, Mel Baldwin and Melinda Lee on KNX’s “Food News Hour” [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 58)]

[Thank you] for introducing me to your west coast audience, which offered me many new restaurants to investigate. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

…Bob Barry of WEMP-Radio, Milwaukee, WI (1976-1979) –

…whose newsletter to…radio personalities included notes of my progress and opened many doors for me…[Thank you!] – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

Gloria Pitzer (1979-ish)

Paul Harvey, broadcaster for the ABC Radio Networks –

[Thank you] for [your] kind words about my work. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

…Michigan’s [Nat’l] Federation of Press Women –

[Thank you] for MANY years of meaningful membership. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

Marian Burros, author of Pure and Simple

[Thank you] for your encouragement and enthusiastic endorsement as Food Editor of ‘The Washington Post’, making my research of the food industry’s secrets an exciting and interesting labor of love. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

Ed (& Sydney) Busch of WFAA-Radio, Dallas, TX (1976-1982, hosts of “America Over the Weekend”) –

[Thank you for your priceless contacts and wonderful audience! – Gloria Pitzer]

KSL-News Radio, Salt Lake City, UT –

Toby Gold of WSAY-Radio, Rochester, NY –

…Toni [Antoinette T.] Harblin of WTNY, Watertown, NY

…Bunny Morse of WCMY-Radio, Ottawa, IL (“The Morning Mix”, currently hosted by Maggie Frost)

Pat Rogers of WOAI-Radio, San Antonio, TX – host of the show, “Cover Story”

[Thank you, all, for all of your past support! – Gloria Pitzer]

Eddie Schwartz of WGN-Radio, Chicago, IL – founder of the Good Neighbor Food Drive that continues on today.

Bob Sweeney of WHIO-Radio, Dayton, OH [FYI: Dayton is where Phil Donahue’s show originated.] AlsoLou Emm [RIP]  of WHIO-Radio

PM Magazine and their television crew in Detroit (at WJBK-Detroit as “PM Magazine Detroit” and “PM Detroit”) –

[Thank you] for having created new interests in my recipes. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

The Phil Donahue Show and its amazing television audience…

Carol Haddix (Food Writer at the Detroit Free Press, 1971-1977 & Food Editor at the Chicago Tribune, 1977-2011)

[Thank you] for an over-whelming response to my ‘Eating Out at Home’ ideas. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)

There are still more thanks to be made, however, they’ll have to wait for my next blog. But, before I go, I want to thank Rosanne Robinson, who found my tribute page for Mom (@TheRecipeDetective) and recently began contacting me through Facebook. She said, in part, that Mom was a regular guest on her radio show at WMB-Radio, adding, “she was my favorite guest and a guarantee my mom would listen too!”

Thank you, Rosanne, for your messages and memories of my mom! Keep in touch! And, to anyone else reading this, please contact me at therecipedetective@outlook.com or on Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective) with your memories of my mom! I’d love to hear from you as well!

In closing…

Archer Teacher Fish & Chips, plus Onion Rings option

Archer Teacher Fish & Chips, plus Onion Rings option

By Gloria Pitzer, first published in The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 1)

Arthur Treacher was once Merv Griffin’s right-hand-man. A dignified and accomplished actor that we best remember from the 1930s & 1940s.

Ingredients:

3 cups boxed pancake mix

3-4 cups club soda

0.4-oz. pkg. ranch dressing mix powder

2-3 lbs. fish fillets (any good frying-type)

Instructions:

With wire whisk, combine the pancake mix and enough of the club soda so that the batter is the consistency of buttermilk – pourable! Whisk in the ranch dressing mix.

Dip the fillets into just enough plain, all-purpose flour to coat them lightly but evenly. Let coated fillets dry a few minutes on wax paper. Dip coated fillets into wet batter to coat lightly but evenly, letting excess batter drip back into bowl.

Using a heavy sauce pan or electric fryer, fry a few pieces at a time in 3-inch deep oil heated to 385F degrees. Turn the pieces once to brown each side (at about 2-3 minutes per side).

Remove from hot oil, using the tip of a sharp knife. Do NOT use tongs as it may cause coating to break and fall off. Keep pieces warm on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan in a warm oven until all pieces have been fried. Serves 4-6.

ONION RINGS OPTION: (what to do with extra, left-over batter, as it does not keep well…)

Cut 3 firm white onions, each about the size of an orange., into 1/4-inch thick slices and separate into rings. Run these under cold tap water in a colander and let excess water drain off.

As with the fish (above), dip the rings into just enough plain, all-purpose flour to coat them lightly but evenly and let them dry for a few minutes on wax paper. One at a time, dip coated rings into the wet fish batter (above) to coat lightly but evenly, letting excess batter drip back into bowl. Then, drop each ring into 2-inch deep oil heated to 385F degrees. Turn the pieces once to brown each side (at about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy).

Remove from hot oil, using the tip of a sharp knife. Do NOT use tongs as it may cause the coating to break and fall off. Drain rings on paper towels and keep warm on a cookie sheet in the oven, on low, until all rings have been fried. Serves 4 nicely.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Mom’s Story – How Secret Recipes Began, Part 4

Hi, everyone, and happy Monday! Welcome!

If you’re new to here – I’m Laura Emerich and I started this blog 5 months ago to celebrate my mom’s legacy. My mom is Gloria Pitzer; known to millions as the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”. Mom passed away just over a year ago, leaving behind an extensive treasure that included her love of life, family and faith; as well as her creative writing, illustrations and “Secret Recipes” careers.

This week, I am finishing up my 4-part, special series, “Mom’s Story – How Secret Recipes Began”, sharing with you some of Mom’s own memories of sleuthing challenges that earned her the title of the “Recipe Detective”, which she later trademarked. This series is based on excerpts from Mom’s story, as seen on pages 292-297 in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – which is a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing).

Now, on with the final part of Mom’s continued story, in her own words:

My list of ‘Secret Recipes’ had grown to 200 and we offered them, on 4 x 6” cards [that I printed on my mimeograph], at $0.25 each or 5 for a dollar. It was quite a packaging process to fill the combinations of orders, so I put all those recipes into a book. It was going to be our ‘only’ book on the subject, since most of the recipes were ‘fast foods’ – but, as it turned out, it was only the 1st of a series of 5 books [not to mention all the ones that came after that series]. After ‘Book One’ took off and became a very good seller, I did a Bicentennial American Cookery book [pictured below] as a limited edition and was pleased when the Henry Ford Library at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan ordered copies for their Bicentennial collection. That was July 1976…

This is the front and back covers of the bicentennial cookbook mentioned above –
Ad about Mom’s recipe cards, as seen on the back of Gloria Pitzer’s The American Cookery Cookbook – written and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1976)

Mom’s books were different than the rest – they stood out, not only in their crafty designs and lay-outs, but also because they were filled with food-for-thought AND food-for-the-soul AS WELL AS food-for-the-table ideas – all served up with a lot of clever humor on top! No other cookbooks at that time offered a combination like that – especially not with “make-alike” recipes to imitate food industry dishes and products at home! She was a trail-blazer, carving out a unique niche in the industry! But, let’s get back to Mom’s story…

RECIPES TESTED TO TURN OUT RIGHT

PAUL GAVE HIS BOSS TWO WEEKS’ NOTICE and left his job of 20 years to devote full time to helping me with the recipes and the newsletter. The subscriptions had increased from less than 100 to over 3000 in a few months. Bob Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show was still one of our favorite contacts and before we knew it, we became a sponsor of Bob’s show.

1974 – Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter

“It’s like getting together…for coffee with friends!” – Gloria Pitzer, referring to her newsletter

It was just prior to buying advertising time on Bob’s show that one of his audience had called in a request for a fish batter like Arthur Treacher’s. The caller specifically asked on the air if Gloria, “The Recipe Detective”, might give the recipe a try. I did and went back to the phone with each of several developing steps, waiting for the response of Bob’s audience to each one. The 1st several recipes were not quite “on target”. I wanted the recipe to be exactly like the famous batter of the fish and chips chain.

Each step came closer and closer to the perfect duplication, and each was reported over Bob’s show. Finally, with the club soda and pancake mix combination, the radio show’s audience was so enthusiastic that a copy of the recipe was sent to Carol Haddix, who was, then, the Food Editor of the Detroit Free Press. She tested the recipe and published it with an endorsement, that she felt it was “right on target”…

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Speaking of the Arthur Treacher challenge (above) – the following is another commentary Mom wrote specifically about developing the recipe to mimic Treacher’s fish batter, as seen in her book, “My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop” [written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer, Dec. 1989; pages 73-74]. It was not a quick development, and others have tried to lay claim to this secret; but, in truth, Mom was the one to originally discover the “secret” ingredients AND process involved in developing a matching product at home. Unlike most of the companies, whose products Mom imitated, Treacher’s people accepted the copycat imitation as the homage it was meant to be.

“Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery” – One of Charles Caleb Colton’s most famous aphorisms (1824). Lacon, Or, Many Things in a Few Words: Addressed to Those who Think (8 ed.). New York: S. Marks. #217, p. 114.

The most exciting attention we received was the recognition given us by the Arthur Treacher people. At the time, the Arthur Treacher fish batter was unique. It was crispy and golden brown and very light. Everyone we talked to about fish wanted to know how to recreate the Treacher fish batter at home. The original challenge came directly from Bob Allison’s “Neighbors”. The TV commercials advertised that it was “the meal you cannot make at home!” I tried to disprove that.

Finding the nearest Arthur Treacher restaurant [from “beautiful, downtown Pearl Beach”] was the real challenge. With a friend, I drove into Mt. Clemens and located one. After dozens of tests and trying what I thought would be a good Oriental Tempura batter, again, I was disappointed. I tried every fish batter I could find, in every possible recipe source [at the time], over a 6- or 7-month period.

Finally, one day, by accident, I was preparing fish for our dinner – without any thought being given to Arthur Treacher’s batter – and on a lark, [I] mixed together boxed pancake mix and some Club Soda. Only because the plumber was working on the pipes and had turned off the water temporarily, did I resort to that Club Soda, so that I wouldn’t have to put off preparing dinner until the plumber was finished. Everybody had someplace to go that evening, so dinner had to be fast and on time.

Wouldn’t you know it! There, on the platter, was a mountain of the most beautiful, golden, crispy fish that you would have sworn came right from Arthur Treacher’s own kitchen! The next day, I retested the recipe and tried to work out some of the little flaws that we came across, before I could report back to Bob Allison and his “Neighbors” over, then, WWJ-Radio, Detroit.

The biggest problem was how the coating kept falling off the fish during frying. It turned out, I had to correct two things – coating [the] moistened fillets, first, in plain flour, before dipping [them] into the batter and, then, having the oil precisely at 385F. Oh! And a third point: Never to use tongs – or the coating would break apart.

Once the fish recipe proved to be free of faults, I sent a copy of the recipe to Carol Haddix, the Food Editor of the “Detroit Free Press” [at that time], for her comments. I had talked with her, by phone, during the many weeks that I worked on perfecting the batter, trying to discover why the batter would sometimes fall off the fish; why the fish was, sometimes, greasy; and a number of other problems. She offered me the benefit of her experiences with frying fish and told me to get her a copy of the recipe, if I ever perfected it.

When she published the recipe in the paper, it carried her approval as “on target”. So, it does, therefore, have ample validation that the recipe is ours and does belong to “Secret Recipes”, in spite of the number of people I have had to confront on the issue over the years, regarding the plagiarism of it from our publications. Because our recipes and newsletters are all “dated publications” and are subject to Interstate Commerce, we don’t use the same copyright procedures that book publishers use.

We validate the originality by date of publication and back it up with radio and newspaper endorsements and involvement with the development and printing of the recipes for public use. But, that one recipe really caught the attention of the press! The wire services picked up Carol Haddix’s story about us and the fish batter recipe and, before long, it appeared in over 100 papers…[and the rest is history!]

Gloria Pitzer, 1985

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading “Mom’s Story” as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it again for her legacy tribute. In closing, here is a picture of Mom’s make-alike recipe for Arthur Treacher-Style Fish Batter and a bonus recipe, using any extra batter for Onion Rings (like Burger King used to serve in the beginning). This comes from Mom’s 1985 “Free Recipes & Information” sheet; asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:

More information about Arthur Treacher and a slightly different version of this recipe, using individual spices instead of the packaged ranch dressing mix, along with some other famous fish & chips-style dishes and stories, can be found on pages 105-115 of Mom’s last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)].

Go to https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252 to purchase the book for only $20.99! An eBook version is also available for only $3.99!

Please, come back and check out my blog next week, “Famous Foods from Famous Places”, when I discuss more of Mom’s writing career and how she earned the title of “The Recipe Detective”, which she trademarked; plus, the cookbook that began it all!