Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fortunate

#TGIM! Happy Monday AND happy June to one and all! As always, I look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances per year, in which I have to share Memories of My Mom!

Last week, I shared Mom’s experiences and memories from the first time she appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, in July 1981. The whole year, following that appearance was, probably, the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of Mom’s family-run, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We were definitely not set up for that massive response!

Secret RecipesTM was JUST A FAMILY AFFAIR! Other than one full-time Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend, it was just my parents, taking care of the day-to-day operations of their mail-order business, with a little help, now and then, from me and my siblings. That is, until that summer of 1981! Then my parents needed to bring in a lot of extra help. Even some of my high school friends were asked to help out, temporarily, with all of the extra mailings we had.

We sent out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets, in exchange for the self-addressed stamped envelopes that came in, per the offer that aired on that Donahue episode. We were also sending out thousands more newsletter issues than previously, from all of the extra subscription orders that came back from those “free sheet” mailings. But even with the extra help, we just never seemed to get totally caught up, as every day the hundreds of trays of mail kept piling up!

However, as frenzied as it was, in the end, it really did open a lot of doors for Mom that might never have happened otherwise; bringing Mom’s unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of new eyes. The 1981 episode reran for about six months or so, after the initial airing on July 7th, appearing on television screens, WORLD-WIDE!

There’s no denying that Mom pioneered a ‘movement’, so-to-speak; carving out a NEW niche in the cookbooks and food industries! There was nothing else like it, on the market, at that time. But, soon enough, many “copycats” certainly followed, copying Mom’s focus on imitating the “junk food”, fast food and restaurant industries’ products that so many people craved – some followers even copied Mom’s work, to the point of straight-up plagiarism!

Amazingly, when the Phil Donahue Show people called again, 12 years later, in 1993, Mom agreed to return for another episode; but only with the stipulation that they not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event! It turned out to be the show’s most requested transcript of all time, shattering the last record into tiny bits! The Donahue Show sent Mom a congratulatory letter and plaque to commemorate the historic event. It’s unfortunate that the show ended it’s 29-year stretch (1967-1996) a few years later.

There are recordings of that 1993, hour-long episode on YouTube, in a series of 5 “staticky” segments. In fact, I have my own “staticky” VHS tape of it, as well! Though, I did get it copied to a DVD, a couple of years ago, before it was no longer playable. Nonetheless, I wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s July 7th, 1981 appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, send me an email at: therecipedetective@outlook.com – and thank you, in advance!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 68)

BIG SHOWS & INTERVIEWS

AFTER DONAHUE, PM Magazine, The Home Show, even being mentioned on Jeopardy and complementary reviews in Catholic Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Campus Life, Mother Jones, National Observer, as well as The National Enquirer (absolutely accurate, too, I swear!) Plus, a write up in Playboy Magazine [and] Home Cooking. We said no to People magazine. We did not want another 1 million letters [like we received after the Donahue show] and surely that would be inevitable, considering their circulation.

On a side note: Michael Neill, a writer at People Magazine, was persistent about wanting to interview Mom and she eventually gave in. His story, ‘For Gloria Pitzer, Unlocking the Secrets of Fast-Food Recipes is Easy: Just Fake and Bake’, appeared in People Weekly’s May 7, 1990 issue, on pages 81-82; including a couple of Mom’s recipes and the two photos of Mom, below, by Susan L. Tusa, but not Secret RecipesTM exact contact information.

Still, the article contained enough information, that a large amount of mail and orders arrived anyway for Mom and Dad at the St. Clair Post Office, during that spring/summer season; just not quite as massive an amount as the bombardment that followed after the first Donahue episode.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

[BIG SHOWS & INTERVIEWS – Cont’d]

We knew that making a lot of money in a big hurry was not what we wanted, even though it might have been what others thought we should have done. We were afraid, then, that our cup would REALLY have run over. We also declined an invitation to be on Good Morning America the week after we were on ‘Donahue’.

And just as recently, we declined to appear on the Will Shriner Show… Also, I never did the ‘Kelly and Company‘ show at channel 7 in Detroit, even though they had invited me to be on with them several times. Jack McCarthy’s TV interview with us on Christmas Eve [1976]… for [‘Friday Feast’ on] Channel 7, in Detroit, was one of the highlights of our experiences.

And a few months ago, [I had] an even more enjoyable experience with Erik Smith, doing a segment in our kitchen for their ‘Friday Feast’, during which we prepared the hot fudge [sauce] like Sanders’ and the ‘McFabulous Biscuits’, from our information sheet of sample recipes.

Of all the wire services and all of the hundreds of newspaper stories about us across the country in the past 14 years [1975-1989], since our fast food recipes have become popular, I can still honestly say that I prefer radio to it all.

On another side note: Eventually, as with the Phil Donahue Show and People Magazine, persistence paid off, again; because John Kelly and Marilyn Turner, the husband-and-wife hosts of “Kelly & Company”, eventually interviewed Mom – and, yet again, not just once but twice!

Mom insisted that she would never do another NATIONAL television show, after the fallout from her Donahue experience. But, when her good friend, Carol Duvall, called to ask Mom to give ABC’s “Home” show (aka: “The Home Show”) a try, Mom couldn’t say no to her friend. It was a new show in which Carol, herself, had come to be involved. It turned out to be a really rewarding experience for Mom; especially when she was surprised by Wally Amos, being there, in person, to taste her imitation of one of his “Famous” cookies.

ABC’s “Home” show began as a half-hour program in mid-January 1988. Mom was a guest in February 1988. Following a 60-minute trial run in September 1988, “Home” expanded permanently to an hour-long series in January 1989. After the show ended in 1994, host, Rob Weller formed a production company with someone else and, together, they developed “The Carol Duvall Show” which aired on HGTV from 1994 until 2005, when it moved to the DIY Network in 2005 and ran for another 4 years.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 68)

THE HOME SHOW & WALLY AMOS

The Home Show, however, in February 1988, were wonderful to us [Paul and me]. They flew us to Los Angeles, and we appeared with Rob Weller and Sandy Hill in a one-hour segment that re-created some of our recipes. They were very specific that I do our ‘Famous Nameless Cookies’ and I could not see the reason they absolutely insisted on that recipe. I had trouble finding the right ingredients an hour before airtime, but we made compromises there and came up with an even BETTER version than before.

What had happened, without my knowing it, was Wally Amos, himself [was there]. They flew him in from Hawaii to taste-test my version of HIS product. What a delightful man! What a warm and generous soul. He brought me a tin of an assortment of his favorite cookies and, after tasting my version of his product, made me promise that I would never go into the cookie business! Meeting Wally Amos was one of those cherished memories that I will always look back on warmly.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 86)

FORTUNATE

I LOOK BACK NOW… and realize how FORTUNATE I was to have had my life touched by so many helpful people – so many famous people! It’s almost incredible that what started out to be merely the frosting on the cake, of my monthly newsletter, soon became the whole cake!

While duplicating the secrets of the [fast] food and restaurant industry was only going to be a part of the publications I was writing, it was a surprise to me that the interest and the response from the public led to my specializing in the fast food division entirely!

http://therecipedetective.com/2019/01/24/1985-gloria-pitzers-secret-fast-food-recipes/

I thought my first book was going to be my ‘only’ book on that subject, but – six books later – I was still seriously, but lovingly, engaged in the pursuit of new information and challenging recipe imitations. I’ve been asked by restaurants to give them permission to use my recipes and say so on their menus. I’ve been asked by ‘People Magazine’, at least once a month for six months – even before the Donahue show appearance – to grant them an interview.

The fact that I had declined the invitation because I couldn’t handle any additional mail, made the columns of the Detroit Free Press, when their ‘Tip-Off’ columnist said it was ‘classy’ to turn down People Magazine – refusing publicity in a national magazine because I did not want to ‘get big’!

[NOTE: As mentioned previously, Michael Neill’s story, ‘For Gloria Pitzer, Unlocking the Secrets of Fast-Food Recipes is Easy: Just Fake and Bake’, appeared in the May 7, 1990 issue of People Weekly, on pages 81-82.]

In Mom’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1982), [which is the book I helped her to rewrite and republish (with Balboa Press), now called Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018)] she wrote about some of the unhappy experiences she had with various companies and their legal advisers.

Their threats of lawsuits had Mom and Dad quite frightened at one time or another for attempting to duplicate their secrets in her own kitchen. But, truth is, Mom didn’t know their actual secrets unless they shared them with her. She could only make educated guesses and experiment with different combinations of ingredients until she came up with a good imitation.

However, others like Wally Amos (the former “Famous” Amos), Harland Sanders (the original “Colonel” of KFC fame), Jack Sanders (famous Michigan chocolatier), Arthur Treacher (actor turned restaurateur), the people of White Castle, General Foods, Hershey’s, and McDonald’s own Paul Duncan appreciated Mom’s flattery attempts to compliment them through her personal imitations of their products, even to the delightful caricature names that she gave her own creations. Those are the ones that made what she did all worthwhile!

In honor of June being National Country Cooking Month, here are TWO of Mom’s copycat recipes – one for Betsy Ross’ Custardy Cornbread! [As seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7)] AND a repeat of Mom’s Kentucky Biscuits imitation, which she prepared on ABC’s “Home” show in February 1988!

#CountryCookingMonth

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#ThankGodItsMonday

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…22 down, 30 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Golden Rule

Thank God, It’s Monday, again!  Happy Monday to all! In addition to the many celebrations taking place today, happy Random Acts of Kindness Day AND Week! Plus, on a similar note, it’s also National Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week!

#BrotherhoodSisterhoodWeek

NationalDayCalendar.com explains that National Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week “encourages people of diverse faiths to discuss not only our differences but to recognize how we are all the same—uniting in our human brotherhood and sisterhood.”

The “Golden Rule” is a basic, moral principle for society that encourages us to TREAT OTHERS AS WE WANT TO BE TREATED! It is just a commonsense, moral ethic, by which we should all live on a daily basis. Its core is based on the biblical suggestion from the “Book of Matthew”, which says: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matt. 7:12) According to Wikipedia, the name “Golden Rule” came about “because there is value in having this kind of respect and caring attitude for one another.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84)

MOM’S ANCESTRY STORY

The principal was not sorry he hired me, for the job required filling in for a teacher who would be out about six weeks due to an auto accident in which she was injured. I took over her class and initiated a school newspaper while I was there… That class was a difficult challenge to say the least.

Perhaps, I took still another risk though, when I told the class that whatever their ancestors were, whatever their ethnic or religious persuasion was, they could not use such conditions as excuses for not at least trying to develop their individual talents and skills. It sounded good. The tough kid in the class…[was] amused and decidedly uninterested in anything I could say. He seemed to be in charge and the rest of the students appeared to yield to his lead, so I talked directly to him, but so that the rest of the class could hear.

I told him that calling me a ‘WASP’ was not a description of what I really was. Of course, WASP meant ‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’ and it surprised me that he even knew enough to use that term. He finally shut up and found himself listening to me as I then moved around the classroom telling everybody that it was okay to be sore about not getting a fair break, as long as you didn’t take it out on somebody else.

Since I had their attention, finally, I launched right into a story about my own background and how my mother’s parents were originally German, but they were also Jews, and living in Russia at the turn-of-the-century. It was dangerous for any Jew in Russia at that time, so much like the story of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, my grandparents with two small children and my grandmother then expecting a third child, took a crowded freighter to America. They couldn’t speak a word of English and had nothing with them but what they could carry by hand.

On the way over, unfortunately, they came down with what [was] suspected to be TB. A few years following the birth of their seventh child, TB finally took my grandmother. Having settled in Pittsburgh, my grandfather moved on to Cleveland where he hoped to find relatives who would help him with a job and a place to raise the motherless children. It didn’t work out as he expected, however.

The relatives were not where he had last contacted them. The orphanage was overcrowded that he had been directed to, in order to leave the children and seek treatment for the TB that seem to be getting worse for him. Having been turned away by the orphanage, he was about to leave the children all on a street corner, telling them somebody would come along to help them, but that he had to get his train to the sanatorium that the government was sending him to for help. At that point the nuns were passing by on their usual afternoon walk.

What happened that particular day was rather sketchy in details, since all of the children were then too young to clearly recall it; but apparently, as he left the orphanage and was expressing his despair in tears on the street in front of the school, two nuns were passing by on their way back to the Catholic orphanage down the street. They stopped long enough to ask if they could be of help, and upon hearing the story from the older children who spoke English and Grandpa’s broken English, they concluded that the children needed to be cared for.

They took the children to the Catholic orphanage, assuring my grandfather that they would see to it that they went to Temple every Saturday, even though they would be in the Catholic schools and living in the dormitories with the other children. When there was room for them at the Jewish orphanage, they would then be transferred, and the promise was kept. There, they all remained until each one turned 16 years of age, only to be dismissed into the world, like a prisoner, with nothing more than a change of clothing and bus fair to the city.

#BrotherhoodSisterhoodWeek

The compassion of those Catholic nuns and the care they gave the children of that Jewish immigrant, when Jews were hated as much as they ever were in this country, kept me from ever harboring feelings of prejudice toward other people due to the religious or racial background. But there was more in the lessons I derived from my roots, since every one of those seven brothers and sisters became prosperous and famous in their own right.

One [brother] became an attorney, another a famous artist, and another [became] manager of an apartment complex, while still another became a fine professional carpenter. And [there was my] aunt, who danced as a ballerina with a New York ballet company, as well as an uncle who had his own advertising agency.

The Carter Family, Sept. 1943
Clockwise: Eugene, Esther, Gloria and Joy

My mother met my father when she applied for a job as a typist and secretary at his real estate office. My dad was a devout Christian, so when they were married, she easily embraced his faith and was able to pass on to me the best of three worlds, reflecting the Catholic upbringing with Temple on the Jewish Sabbath and, then, the Christian church, where the precepts were strictly followed in my parents’ home during my own childhood.

The story held the attention of the class just long enough… By the time I had completed the story, I led directly into an assignment of bringing in an account of each students own background and heritage or family roots with much discussion and their various religious practices and ethnic customs. It was a successful experience… Until now, I never wrote about this. Perhaps somebody will benefit from knowing about it, however.

The ‘boy’ Mom spoke of in her memories (above) went on to be a writer and he spoke at Mom’s memorial service, a couple of years ago, about the positive impact she had on him over those teen years and beyond. He credited Mom for influencing him to become a writer and for the quality time she spent with him, voluntarily, to encourage and nurture his love for writing.

#RandomActsOfKindnessDay

Today is also, among other things, Random Acts of Kindness Day and yesterday kicked off Random Acts of Kindness Week, which, this year, is February 16th-22nd. However, while this is an awesome day and week to celebrate acts of kindness, in general, being kind and compassionate should happen every day!

After all, weren’t we taught to be good and kind since we were toddlers in Kindergarten, or even earlier? According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,  Fulghum “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children, i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living ‘a balanced life’ of work, play, and learning.

#MakeKindnessTheNorm

Many others thought this way, as well. One group developed a non-profit organization, which has its own website at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org, where they promote making random acts of kindness “the norm”, offering a lot of stories about kind acts and other inspirations of kindness. Additionally, at WisdomQuotes.com , you’ll find “440 Kindness Quotes That Will Make You A Better Person” – more than enough ideas of which to follow at least one every day for the rest of the year! Practice makes perfect – it also creates habits, which will, hopefully, become natural reflexes.

It’s a shame that the simple act of being kind to someone is forgotten by many after they leave kindergarten. If a kindergartner can understand its importance to society, shouldn’t we all? Like Aesop said: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” In other words, a culture of kindness can have a positive ripple effect. However, doing something nice should be a selfless act. That’s what inspires others to pay it forward, in the same fashion. On the other hand, being kind solely for the recognition of it throws a selfish disruption in the whole system.

In fact, we receive many other types of rewards from simply being kind to others, without the want of recognition. NationalDayCalendar.com lists some benefits that performing random acts of kindness give us, as psychiatrists claim, it… “Fuels personal energy and self-esteem… Makes you happier… [Is] good for your heart… [And] helps you live longer…” Even science has proven the health benefits that being kind promotes. You can read about it at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

#RandomActsOfKindnessWeek

I want to pass this on, to do for this week’s celebration of Random Acts of Kindness Week. It’s from an article on StarTribune.com called “Why Being Kind Makes You Healthier”, by Chrystle Fiedler (July 24, 2019): “Try the seven-day kindness challenge. That means, do at least one act of kindness every day for seven days. Ground rules: Do something different each day; push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once and be sure one of your acts of kindness is anonymous — no one should ever find out who did it.”

In so many ways, Mom and Dad, both, set good examples for me to follow. I am so grateful that my family heritage, on both sides, that I know, were good and kind people. I’m proud to do the same, setting a good example for my children to follow (as well as for people that know me) and that they will continue it, as well, making kindness the daily norm. Like a smile, a random act of kindness – just because – can be contagious. But, unlike the coronavirus, that’s a good thing. Plant the seed, every day, and watch kindness grow wild!

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. This is Mom’s copycat recipe for Kentucky-Style biscuits, which was also among her “free recipes” offers.

This recipe is for today, being #NationalCabbageDay! It’s an encore of Mom’s copycat recipe for Kentucky-Style coleslaw…

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#TGIM

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com says, “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Seven down, 45 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253