Happy October! Thank God Its Monday, again; thus, happy Monday to all, as well. I personally look forward to Mondays since they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!
Happy National Book Month and National Cookbook Month. These are just a couple of reasons why I love October so much. October is also the threshold for the holiday season, throughout the next three months, and the holidays go hand-in-hand with food – which leads us back to it being National Book Month and National Cookbook Month.
It also happens to be National Newspaper Week. I mention this because Mom’s Secret Recipes business and her Recipe Detective persona may never have come to fruition if it had not been for her first being a food columnist at a local newspaper. That’s where her copycat cookery concept originated.
Mom’s success as the Recipe Detective basically stemmed from a series of experiences – meant-to-be’s, she would call them. Experiences steered her talents and love for writing in the direction of newspaper columns (and cartoons), newsletters, books and cookbooks – all geared toward the semi-traditional, semi-Women’s-Lib homemakers, like herself.
This week, I have a lot of Mom’s own memories to share with you, regarding her experiences in developing her small, family business. She often wrote about the events that she (and Dad) went through, to get where they were, doing what they were meant to be and doing. She also wrote regularly about her faith in her Higher Power leading the way.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 8)
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
THE SECRET RECIPE REPORT
ALTHOUGH I’VE BEEN WRITING longer than I’ve been cooking, the notion to investigate the secrets of the food industry didn’t become a full-time labor-of-love until I was working for a small-town newspaper [about 1971.]
As the only ‘married lady’ on the staff, I was always assigned the food page and recipe column, and I was willing to try the dishes at home and present a column or article about their results to the paper.
When you work for a small-town paper, you wear many hats. You set type, sell advertising, proof read, design headlines, create art work, campaign for subscribers; and, before you know it, you acquire skills you didn’t even know you possessed.
The food department became such a welcomed relief from the local politics that I poured my heart and soul into it, learning some of the essentials of good cooking purely by default! Everything went well until I initiated an idea to create advertising interest among local restaurants.
It started when I answered a reader’s request in my column for a recipe like McDonald’s ‘Special Sauce’. I knew it was a kissin’ cousin of a good Thousand Island dressing, so the development of the recipe wasn’t difficult.
The response from our readers was so appreciative that I contacted local restaurants for their advertising in exchange for my printing one of their recipes and menu in my column and a complimentary review of their place.
No one was willing to part with any of their ‘secrets’! So, I decide to see if I could ‘guess’ how they prepared their specialties of the house. I came across a hotel in town that advertised ‘homemade’ cheesecake, and I felt they should be telling their customers ‘home-baked’.
The difference to the public is very slight, but they wanted the public to ‘think’ it was homemade, from scratch, when it was, in fact, simply taken from a carton and popped into the oven like brown-and-serve rolls.
That was before our ‘truth in menu’ laws, but no one at the paper wanted to make an issue out of it. The restaurant insisted it was an old family recipe. I said the cheesecake smacked of commercial automation, stainless steel computerized kitchens and the family they referred to was probably that of Sara Lee!
At any rate, that was when I parted company with the paper and set out on my own to create the ‘Secret Recipe Report’, which I dearly miss now.
October is also special because it’s National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and National Self-Promotion Month. By the way, family values – honesty, integrity, empathy, kindness, responsibility, commitment, etc. – are among the many pros of doing business with small, family owned and operated companies.
From day one, Mom’s copycat recipe collection continually grew. There were always new challenges for her, as the requests from her fans grew, too. The growing success of her copycat cookery concept led to massive opportunities for her, promoting her new discoveries on radio and TV talk shows, all over North America.
In her first series of cookbooks, Mom shared over 1,400 imitations she developed, covering 59 restaurants (from Arby’s to Yummyland), 83 brands of grocery products (from A&P to Wonder), 22 famous hotel chains and inns, 15 favorite candies and carnival eats, 12 department stores and cafeterias, as well as treats from 7 various tourist hot spots!
Mom released a new book every year except in 1981, as the project she was working on at that time had to be put on hold while the family business was inundated by over a MILLION requests for what she was already offering, following her FIRST appearance on the Phil Donahue Show in July of that year!
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Various excerpts on “Experience”, by Gloria Pitzer; as seen in …
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)
THE EXPERIENCES WE’VE ENCOUNTERED in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio broadcasting and newspaper exposure and our own publishing efforts. If someone can benefit from our experiences, all the better. Mostly, though, this is just a story of our family, our five children…and how we made a dent in the hard shell of the publishing industry. (p. 2)
DOING SOMETHING THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE
ALL OF THIS SHOULD have started somewhere at a particular place in my life because most important things do have memorable beginnings. But I’m hard put to come up with that one event, that singular moment, when I knew that our Secret RecipesTM would touch other people, not just across the country but [also] across the world. And, in doing so, would make a difference. That’s what really counts – doing something that will make a difference for the good of others. (p. 7)
AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK…I am asked how I got into this business, how it all started and how somebody else can write their own book [or newsletter] and get it published. If there were a formula for our kind of success…I would be happy to share the information… (p. 14)
SUCCESS AND LONGEVITY
THE EXPERIENCES THAT COMPRISE the success and longevity of our Secret RecipesTM include some very wonderful people who have gone out of their way to make it easy for us to present our work to the public…[those were some to whom I shared ‘thank you’ notes in some of my past blog posts.]
Over the years, it has been, not a job, but a joy to continue investigating the secrets of the food industry, combining this information and recipes with the logic of the heart, the food for thought as well as food for the table. It continues to arouse interest and delight in, both, our readers and radio listeners all over the country, as well as the world! (p. 15)
EXPERIENCES & PREPARATION
THE EXACT CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, in which each of my writing experiences have occurred, are not clear in my memory now. However, each step [and] each experience was, on second thought, [neither] a delay nor a setback, as I used to believe. It was, instead, only preparation and the gathering of experience…
[Other than myself,] there has been no ‘real’ publisher, no public relations agent or the expensive efforts of professional promoters. [Their] ideas of how to publicize what I have to offer would only conflict with what I felt should be done.
My cup runneth over because I have been blessed with an enthusiasm for promoting my own work and have been twice-blessed with the support and partnership of, probably, the most honest man in the world; who knows, from his own valuable working experiences, exactly how to manage and protect this enterprise.
All of the blessings I derived from having stumbled my way through the [not so] meaningless jobs of the many newspapers for which I once worked, eventually paid tremendous dividends, as I was able to put those learned skills into practice with this family enterprise of ours. Each bit of experience contributed to what I would, later, be able to do without the help of professionals. (p. 20)
EXPERIENCES & RADIO
WHILE THE CRITICS SNICKERED that my fast food imitations would run its unhealthy course in a short while [and] that my ability to turn out copy would, soon, be exhausted; I continued to look to a Divine Source for [my] daily supply of, both, energy and ideas. I have never yet been disappointed or without something good to share with our family of readers and our radio listeners. My cup does, indeed, run over! (p. 21)
IF SOMEONE WERE TO COPY our so-called “success”, I could give them no blueprint for that condition. Each one of the little steps that we had to take to develop the kitchen table activity into a professional business operation, are like the grains of sand that the oyster requires to form a pearl. (p. 25)
‘I felt as if the hand of Providence had poured me out a blessing and it was pressed down, shaken together and running over.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 15)
In honor of October, also being German-American Heritage Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Frankenmuth Hot German Potato Salad, Like Zender’s; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 40). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Today is… National Fried Scallops Day! Plus, as the first Monday in October (for 2023), it’s also… National Consignment Day and National Child Health Day! Additionally, the first full Mon.–Fri. work week [2nd-6th for 2023] is… Customer Service Week! Moreover, the first Mon-Sun week [2nd-8th for 2023] is… Financial Planning Week!
Tomorrow, as the first Tuesday in October (for 2023), is… National Eat Fruit At Work Day!
October 4th is… National Cinnamon Bun Day, National Taco Day, and National Vodka Day! Plus, as the first Wednesday in October (for 2023), it’s also… National Walk to School Day and National Pumpkin Seed Day!
…40 down and 12 to go!