September is traditionally considered to be a month of transitions – from summer to fall, hot to cool, and long days to shorter ones; just to name a few. Kids are also transitioning into their new school curriculums. Additionally, September is deemed to be a great month in which to refocus our energies.
In fact, this month marks three years since I refocused my own energies and made the transition into being a blogger. Friday, the 17th, will be the anniversary of my launching Mondays & Memories of My Mom, carrying on Mom’s Legacy Of Love.
Mom’s first love was with writing. Inspired by a movie she saw as a young girl, about the Bronte sisters, she began journaling every day. She also loved to write short stories and poetry. From her childhood until she was a young adult, Mom dreamed of someday writing a great American novel.
However, her “great American novel” never came to fruition, not in the way she thought it would, at least, as Life took her in a slightly different direction. Every successful accomplishment that Mom ever had with her writing efforts in and after high school and college involved cooking, recipes, and homemaking in some manner.
In the 1950s and 1960s, she won multiple contests on radio shows and in magazines for her food-related stories and recipes. In 1963, Mom was so excited about finally being able to buy her very own typewriter, with the prize money she won from another contest; since she had always gone to the library or borrowed someone’s, previously.
As a wife and mother, Mom found her own family to be the best subject about which to write. She was very creative and sarcastically funny. She designed a few different columns (‘No Laughing Matter’, ‘Cookbook Corner’, ‘Woman’s Lip’, and ‘Minding the Hearth’) on her typewriter, mailing out samples to over 300 newspapers.
Within a year, she was writing two different columns for 60 regular papers. She even created her own cartoon panels, which she called ‘Full House – as Kept by Gloria Pitzer’. They depicted her life as a wife and mother of 5 in the “Women’s’ Lib” transitioning years of the mid-60’s to mid-70’s.
Then, when she was writing her food column, ‘Cookbook Corner’, she realized from her readers’ requests and her own family’s wants and needs that there was an uncharted area in the food industry that needed her secret sleuthing talents! No cookbooks anywhere on the market explored what Mom came to call her own, “copycat cookery”.
She approached her editor, at the time, with an idea to change things up from the usual meatloaf and chocolate brownies recipes. He loved the idea (at first) and told her to write the recipes that she thought would excite their readers. She did and the readers loved it!
However, some of the newspaper’s food industry advertisers weren’t so happy with Mom’s inventive ways to imitate their products at home. Thus, her editor told her to stop. That’s when Mom told him to mail her last check and she went home to start her own paper.
Mom carved out a totally new niche in the food industry with her copycat cookery concepts, which she also called “eating out at home”. She set to work, discovering how to mimic the taboo junk foods and fast foods, as well as shelf-stable and frozen grocery products and famous restaurant dishes in her own kitchen. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too!
She didn’t just develop and self-publish her own recipes for duplicating famous foods from famous places, but she also promoted them, herself. It was mostly through radio talk show programs. However, newspapers and magazines picked up on it quickly, too, as Mom blazed a trail of uniqueness around all the “Betty Crockers” and “Julia Childs” of that time.
In the early years of her cottage-style, dining room table, family-run operation, Mom sold her recipe imitations on 4”x6” index cards, printed from a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room. Her index quickly grew to about 200 recipes, which began outgrowing our dining room table.
Mom went from printing the recipe cards to monthly newsletters and multiple cookbooks in the blink of an eye. She gained national and international attention and recognition, rapidly. Her copycat cookery concept was fresh and new – unlike anything else on the market, in her field.
She used to tell me, “life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.” In other words, while we’re busy making plans for how we’d like our lives to be, life changes and transitions all the time. We just need to refocus and transition, too.
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. 54-55)
RADIO AND BOB ALLISON’S “ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS!”
RADIO TURNED OUT TO BE the most appropriate way by which we made people aware of what we were doing…my involvement with the wonderful world of radio actually came about without any specific intention of becoming a regular part of the broadcasting field… I didn’t know I had what is considered ‘a radio voice’.
Heaven knows our five kids will, to this day, even in their adulthood, testify to the fact that, on occasion, during their up-bringing, I had been known to discover conditions that would prompt me to accelerate, vocally, in a pitch that only dogs in the next county could hear!
My introduction to radio began with Bob Allison and [his] ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show. I was folding diapers at the kitchen table, waiting for my favorite daily segment of ‘My True Story’ to come on the air when, instead, WWJ [a Detroit area radio station] announced that it had been replaced with a NEW show!
This new show turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me…almost every Monday morning I [would] visit with Bob Allison and his neighbors…
When ‘My True Story’ was replaced by Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show… I was, at first, very disappointed. Household hints and problems around the house that you cannot solve yourself seemed like just too much homemaking information to please me.
I soon, however, became ‘hooked’ on the show, as almost everybody does, to the point that, on Fridays, when Bob would sign-off and say he would talk to us again on Monday, I was spending the weekends just looking forward to the show on Monday.
I called the show about 2 or 3 times a month for the first year or two, to ask questions of Bob’s ‘neighbors’ that my newspaper column readers were asking me. When I couldn’t find the answer from consulting other sources, I knew I could rely on Bob Allison’s ‘neighbors’ to come up with the right answers for me.
In return, I would often… phone in an answer that I occasionally had, in reply to one of their questions or recipe requests. Bob did not recognize my voice as a regular caller until I had initiated the newsletter, however. He asked me where the [hamburger sauce] recipe came from that I was giving, in reply to one of his listener’s requests, which is how his program has always worked…
In mentioning that the hamburger sauce recipe would appear in the next issue of my monthly newsletter, which I had given in response to one of his listeners’ previous requests, Bob reacted with great interest and curiosity.
‘You have a newsletter, do you?’ He asked. ‘Well, tell us about it and how much it is and where our neighbors can get it.’
That was all it took to get us well-acquainted with Bob’s ‘neighbors’ and, in no time at all, our subscription orders went from a few to many. Sight-unseen was hardly appropriate to ask people to buy a publication that they could not first examine.
So, I spent all of one day and most of the next, thinking about and trying out a single page description with a few sample recipes from the publication that I could send out to interested and prospective subscribers…
Mom used the same process for advertising her “secret”, make-alike recipes and publications for over 40 years, until she finally, fully retired in 2014. It always worked very well for her business, offering 15-20 sample recipes along with information for ordering her current, self-published cookbooks and newsletter subscription in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Mom was always grateful for her readers, listeners, and fans who kept her inspired with their requests to find the “secrets” to making this dish or that grocery product at home. She was also very thankful to all the media sources that interviewed, wrote, and talked about her imitations of famous foods (from radio and TV talk shows to newspapers and magazines).
By the way, Thursday is National Working Parents Day!
Did you know that today is National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day? No matter if you have kids in your house or you just want to tap into your inner child, celebrate with Mom’s copycat recipe for Hopeless Snowballs; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 14)!
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
The month of September observes, among other things: National Americana Month, Better Breakfast Month, Fall Hat Month, Little League Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Preparedness Month, National Rice Month, National Self-Care Awareness Month, National Sewing Month, Self-Improvement Month, and Whole Grains Month!
Other celebrations happening this week include:
Yesterday, September 12th was the start of the second FULL week in September, which is… National Arts In Education Week! The second week of September also celebrates… National Biscuit and Gravy Week (which is also a national, celebratory DAY on December 14th)!
Additionally, today is also… National Peanut Day!
Tomorrow, September 14th is… National Cream Filled Donut Day, National Eat a Hoagie Day, National Live Creative Day , and National Virginia Day! As the second Tuesday in September, it’s also… National Ants on a Log Day!
Wednesday, September 15th is… National Cheese Toast Day, National Linguine Day, National Double Cheeseburger Day, National Creme de Menthe Day, National Online Learning Day, and Greenpeace Day! Additionally, this is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month (which is always September 15th to October 15th)!
September 16th is… National Play-Doh Day, National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day, National Guacamole Day, and National Step Family Day! Plus, as the third Thursday in September, it’s also… National Pawpaw Day!
Friday, September 17th is… National Professional House Cleaners Day, National Apple Dumpling Day, Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and National Monte Cristo Day! Here’s a re-share of Mom’s copycat recipe for one, Toronto-style!
September 18th is… the U.S. Air Force Birthday and National Cheeseburger Day! In addition, as the third Saturday in September, it’s also… National Dance Day, National Gymnastics Day, Boys’ and Girls’ Club Day for Kids, Responsible Dog Ownership Day, and National Clean Up Day!
Additionally, as the start of the third FULL week in September, it’s… National Farm Safety & Health Week, National Indoor Plant Week, and National Rehabilitation Awareness Week! The third week in September is also… National Farm Animals Awareness Week!
…37 down and 15 to go!