Mondays & Memories of My Mom – You Can’t Please Everyone

Happy Monday to one and all! It’s the last Monday in June. I always look forward to every Monday, because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!



The month of June is still observing (for a few more days), National Candy Month, among other things. As such, I want to mention that Mom imitated a lot of different candy makers’ confections, as the Secret RecipesTM Detective. In fact, Mom’s first candy imitation (shared in her January 1977 cookbook, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book) was for, as she called her version, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”. It was among her “Original 200” recipes collection.

At first, the Hershey Company’s “people” were very upset about Mom, imitating their Reeses Peanut Butter Cup product and naming it too similar to their product’s name. However, unlike many other companies, they were willing to work with Mom; especially after she explained the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat). Mom also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s chocolate in her recipe.

Over the years, Mom imitated other candy too. In her July 1977 cookbook, Second Helping Of Secret Recipes, Mom covered a variety of confections by the Sanders Candy Company and some carnival treats like cotton candy. Mom’s following cookbook in 1978, Eating Out At Home, she had pages of candy imitations from Life Savers to licorice.

The following year, in her Top Secret Recipes Al’a Carte (September 1979) cookbook, Mom imitated another variety of sweet treats from Raisinettes to Milky Way. Every year there seemed to be a new variety of treats that Mom would develop so we could imitate our favorites at home. Below is a re-share of one of Mom’s versions for imitating Hershey’s famous Reeses Peanut Butter Cups at home!

Unlike the Hershey and Sanders companies, who were flattered by Mom’s imitations, there were some other food companies that were totally offended by a small-town homemaker, imitating their products in her own kitchen and naming her versions similarly to their products! Along with that, she was also sharing her recipes with the public, so they could also “eat out, at home!”

Many companies complained of copyright infringements and threatened her with lawsuits, but none of them actually took her to court. Mom never knew what any of their recipes actually contained, nor the processes they used. She just figured out, for herself, how to make the same kind of thing at home. One company, however, started an advertising campaign; using a 1970’s, stereotype housewife, the ad claimed that even she can’t make their product at home!

Stouffers’ and Orange Julius’ attorneys were among the worst of the top 10 complainers about Mom’s copycat cookery concept. Continuously, throughout the 1970s, the Orange Julius people threatened Mom with lawsuits regarding her version of their product. Mom called her imitation “Orange Judas”, as found (in 3 different versions) on page 6 of her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurants Recipes Book (Jan. 1977).

In fact, neither of the afore mentioned companies liked it when Mom and various media sources, like magazine and newspaper reviews and interviews, referred to her imitations as being anything like the original products, nor did they want her recipes’ names to even sound like their own products’ names. Yet, almost since they initially came out in the 1970s, generic brands had been doing basically the same thing.

Speaking of magazines, I just heard over the weekend that Richard Stolley passed away last week. He really made “People” magazine a household name, featuring “extraordinary people doing ordinary things and ordinary people doing extraordinary things”. After her first appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, I don’t know at to which group they considered Mom. Both – maybe!

After years of requests, following her first appearance on the Phil Donahue Show in July 1981 [NOTE: That was 40 years ago!], though afraid of the massive mail it would probably generate, Mom finally consented to an interview with “People” magazine in 1990.

Mom renamed her original “Orange Judas” recipe a number of times but still couldn’t appease that company! Regardless of their threats of lawsuits, Mom finally settled on the name of “Orange Brutus” for her copycat recipe. In a way, Mom turned a “lemon into lemonade”; because, as she promoted it, “Brutus was the one who ‘did in’ Julius!”

All of those companies, saying Mom infringed on their copyrights, just spurred her on all the more. She wanted to pursue her passion and the right to create her own homemade versions of famous foods from famous places, publish them, promote them and sell them!

Mom believed that, since all of those companies and their attorneys were so persistent in huffing and puffing and trying to blow her house down, she must have been on the right path! She also believed that she must have gotten pretty close with her imitations to have caused such a stir!

On the other hand, some food companies, such as White Castle and Sanders Chocolates, were honored by Mom’s efforts at flattery, by imitating their products. In fact, the General Foods corporation, like Hershey, happened to be a slight mixture of both.

At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe title, “Shape & Bake”; because it too closely resembled their trademark name, “Shake & Bake”, as to cause confusion between the products. Then they inferred that a lawsuit would follow if she didn’t cooperate.

Mom worked with General Foods, as she did with Hershey; changing the title of her coating mix to “Shook & Cook”, with which the company was pleased. Mom had sent General Foods a copy of an editorial page from her newest cookbook (at that time), The Joy of NOT Cooking…Anymore than You have To (1983).

In the editorial, Simple Reproductions, Mom wrote about her recipe imitations and their effect on certain “big” companies, comparing her opposite encounters with General Foods’ attorneys and Stouffers’ attorneys. General Foods was pleased with Mom’s editorial compliments on their helpful approach and even offered Mom complete cooperation at any time with any of their products that she used as ingredients in her recipes.

As Mom said in her editorial, “now that’s a BIG company – big in spirit and in customer relations. I purchase all of their products as often as I possibly can to show my approval of their efforts not to alienate a customer.” Unlike Stouffer’s hammer approach, General Foods took a scalpel approach – they didn’t have a problem with Mom’s imitation of their product, they just wanted a different title for it to protect their trademarks and copyrights.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 215)

[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]

COOKIES AND CANDIES (section intro.)

COOKIES AND CANDIES really bring out the little child within us all. There is something almost rewarding about simple confections that the food industry has also been able to capitalize on the products of this division with great marketing success.

The first bakery marketing efforts in the American frontier days included delicacies of French origin, Danish breads and cakes, Austrian strudel and pies of truly colonial persuasion. The candies, which were originally for special religious observances, have been taken into the fold of a prospering industry and have continued, despite repercussions of the critics, skepticism of sugar and artificial sweeteners, to please the public.

The names of the brands that we remember from our pasts and will recall of our present experiences with confections include Hostess Twinkies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Mallow Cups, Cracker Jack, Niagara Falls and Mackinac Island fudges, Sanders Candy Company, O Henry bars, Baby Ruth, Mr. Goodbar, Life Savers, Tootsie Rolls, Goobers Chocolate Covered Peanuts, Archway, Pepperidge Farm, Oreo and Girl Scout cookies, Stuckey’s Pecan Brownies, Keebler Double Chip cookies, Chipperoos, Fig Newtons, and so many more.

When I compiled my favorite cookie and candy recipes for this section, I was really torn between what to keep and what to leave out. I wanted to share with you every single wonderful memory of a pleasing product, you could hopefully imitate in your own kitchen, as a compliment to the original. The array of recipes with which I’ve been working [since the early 60s], was so good that I had a difficult time deciding which would be the best ones to offer you here.

In cookie-baking, the spirit of “reward” is still there, as it was when we were youngsters, and remains a tradition – we will always find a place and a reason for having a cookie jar in the kitchen. The candy making recipes are, likewise, pleasing imitations of those products I have most enjoyed and those my readers have requested over the years. You will probably want to enjoy trying every one of these recipes – especially at holiday times and when ordinary days should feel like a holiday, too!


As I wrote about in Imitation, one of my early blogs, says the word means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…”; while says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” However, as I pointed out, in the beginning, not everyone takes it as such; because there’s a fine-line between imitation and plagiarism.

Mom often referred to herself as “the Rich Little of recipes”. Rich Little was a famous, stand-up comedian and an extremely impressive imitator of celebrity voices. Similarly, Mom was a comedic writer and cartoonist, as well as an imitator of “famous foods from famous places”!

Ever since Mom started her dining-room-table-family-run enterprise in 1973, so many people have imitated her copycat cookery concept. However, not all who’ve followed in her footsteps have given Mom the credit that’s due to her for being the ORIGINAL Secret RecipesTM Detective, sleuthing out and uncovering the supposed secrets of the food industry! Kudos to those who have given Mom the proper credit, though!


In honor of National Candy Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for imitating Mallow Cups!

As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 233)

[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…


June is still celebrating, for a few more days… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Camping MonthNational Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Great Outdoors Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Pollinators Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month – among other things!

Additional observances this week include:

Today is… National Paul Bunyan Day and National Alaska Day!

Tuesday is… National Camera Day, National Waffle Iron Day, and National Almond Buttercrunch Day!

Wednesday is… National Meteor Watch Day and Social Media Day!

Thursday is the beginning of July! As such, some of July’s observances include: World Watercolor Month, National Baked Bean Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Grilling Month, National Horseradish Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month, Independent Retailer Month, National Blueberry Month, National Picnic Month, and National Peach Month!

Furthermore, July 1st is… National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day, National Gingersnap Day, National Postal Worker Day and National U.S. Postage Stamp Day

Friday, July 2nd is… National Anisette Day!

Saturday, July 3rd is… National Fried Clam Day, National Eat Your Beans Day, and National Chocolate Wafer Day! Plus, as the first Saturday in July, it’s Hop-a-Park Day and National Play Outside Day (which is the 1st Saturday of every month)!

Sunday, July 4th is… of course, our national Independence Day, as well as National Barbecued Spareribs Day and National Caesar Salad Day!


…26 down and 26 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Summer Memories

Happy Monday and happy summertime to everyone! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!



Besides Father’s Day, we also celebrated the Summer Solstice, yesterday. Summer officially arrived Sunday, as the longest day of the year, which is probably why today is observed as National Daylight Appreciation Day. So many great memories are made during the summer season. The weather is generally the most favorable, June through August, for getting outside, traveling, camping, and exploring the great outdoors.

This is the month a lot of people start taking their annual vacations. Whether it’s to a favorite somewhere they’ve been before, or exploring someplace new… Thus, the whole month of June is celebrating, among other things, National Camping Month and National Great Outdoors Month! Summertime vacations are wonderful memories-in-the-making!


Personally, I have many great summer memories from my own childhood of our family’s vacations. We went to places like Tahquamenon Falls (MI), Mackinaw City (MI), Mackinac Island (MI), Cedar Point (OH), Niagara Falls (Ontario), and so on. Everywhere we visited, there was usually at least one fudge shop, at which to stop and see a live, fudge-making performance, as well as to taste-test and buy some of their yummy treats!

I would have to say, the Mackinac Island fudge shops are probably my favorite ones of all! And the summer vacations that we spent on Mackinac Island will probably always remain the most memorable to me!


One interesting story I found a couple of years ago on the history of fudge and how it first came to be a tourism essential can be seen at Another great article to check out, regarding fudge and tourism, is at – Why Does Every Tourist Attraction Sell Fudge?, by Kat Eschner (May 12, 2017).

Until last year, the summer months were usually full and eventful for me and my husband – with lots of one-day road trips, weekend getaways, and spontaneous picnics; plus, backyard parties and barbecues to attend and/or host. The season was always busy and seemed to pass by rather quickly – like the old adage infers, “time flies when you’re having fun”!

However, with all of the Covid-19 restrictions throughout most of last year, I found that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I’ve come to truly appreciate all the summertime trips and gatherings that I had always taken for granted. Thus, I want to savor every wonderful day of summer, this year! Another inspiring article I recommend reading is called 10 Fun Things To Do In The Summer.


I consider myself to be a list-maker and, since being inspired by the afore mentioned article, I now like to create small, manageable, summer bucket lists (about 5 things) of what I want to do and see each summer. This year, the goals for me and my husband to explore involve more of #PureMichigan’s “Tip-of-the-Mitt” – including Cadillac, Traverse City, Petoskey, Mackinaw City, and Mackinac Island.

Additionally, in Michigan’s “U.P.”, there are a lot of waterfalls and lighthouses we want to explore; as well as the scenic Pictured Rocks and some other famous sites from which to collect more summertime memories! With any luck at all, we might even see the northern lights, too.

I will always remember one particular summer vacation that I took with Mom and Dad and my younger sister, Cheryl, in my teen years. We were staying at the Grand Hotel, on Mackinac Island; located in beautiful Lake Huron, between Michigan’s two peninsulas.

That same week, there was a movie crew there, filming “Somewhere In Time”, which starred Christopher Plummer, Christopher Reeve, and Jane Seymour! We actually got to meet and talk to the stars, too. What a special treat for all of us to experience! In fact, long before that, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel. In 1947, Ethel Merman swam in the hotel’s kidney-shaped pool, during the filming of This Time for Keeps. Afterward, the Grand Hotel named its pool in honor of her.

While staying at the Grand Hotel, I was very inspired by the elegant presentation of “snacks” set out for its guests, during the day. Especially so by a delicious banana bread that seemed more like a moist, dense cake, rather than a bread. It also had a delectably thick, cream cheese glaze, sure to please the sweet tooth!

With a little help from Mom, I created my own version later that summer. It turned out so good that Mom put it in her cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1982, 1st Printing) – which is the cookbook that I helped Mom to re-write, using the 3rd printing edition from 1983.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235)


Our reservations were made in February, that year, to spend the Fourth of July week at The Grand Hotel on historic Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. We had heard, when we arrived, that Universal Pictures was filming a movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and that our 2-day stay at the hotel might be disrupted from the usual routine we were used to when we stayed there.

The place was booked, and we were lucky to have those 2 days because other customers had canceled. The scene when we arrived was one of spectators and glamorous Hollywood activity in the lobby and on the grounds.

Paul was just teeing off at the green next to the golf pro shop, the next morning, when we heard a sympathetic moan from the beautiful leading man, himself, as he locked up his bike and headed across the street to the filming activity. I know I should have run after Christopher Reeve for his autograph, but I was in shock!

Later, in the hotel lobby, we watched the scene when Christopher Reeve checked into The Grand and, later, when he and Jane Seymour [took] a buggy ride away from the entrance of the hotel, with Christopher Plummer looking on. Take the time to enjoy seeing the movie they were filming – we’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait to see it again! It’s for everyone who has ever been in love – or who has ever visited lovely Mackinac Island, as we do every summer.

In one scene of the movie you’ll notice, on the main street of the village, a sign over a shop that reads ‘Murdick’s Fudge, a recipe which I have coveted for years. Finally, after dozens of tests, I came up with the secret for purporting this product at home… It whips up in 5 minutes and, a week later, it’s still smooth and creamy.

My parents created a lot of awesome summer memories, upon which I will often reminisce, happily. Another summer memory I have from my teen years is when I was traveling on vacation, with my family, to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. During the long 3-hour drive, Mom sat in the back of the van with me, helping me work on a poem that I had been inspired to write about her and our family (pictured below). Another cherished summertime remembrance!



After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, they bought a camper and traveled even more – often mixing work with pleasure (as Mom’s work was her pleasure) – making their own special memories. It was undoubtedly much more affordable to do, with only the two of them!

Joining the Good Sam RV club was always one of their most favorite experiences and a big source of wonderful memories. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters of Good Sam.

Mom often wrote about the trips she and Dad took in their summer newsletter issues – from the new restaurant dishes they tried as they traveled (and imitated when they went home) to all of the great friendships they developed everywhere they went. Mom and Dad always looked forward to the Good Sam “Samboree” events!


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)


Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 100)


FRIENDS ARE A TREASURE and, when we count our blessings, we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered…

Since our camping experiences with the national RV organization, ‘Good Sam’, we have truly adopted their slogan… ‘In Good Sam there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!’ How very true. What would we have done had we not been blessed with meeting Irv and Helen Henze [or] Helen and Chuck Mogg? How much we miss Chuck since he passed away. Friends are those people who know everything there is to know about you, but like you anyhow!


In honor of today, being National Arizona Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Arizona Banana-Orange-Nut Salad”, as seen in Mom’s self-published, bi-centennial cookbook… Gloria Pitzer’s The American Cookery Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1976, p. 3).

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


June celebrates, among other things… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Candy Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Pollinators Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!

Other observances happening this week include:

Today, June 21st, is… National Peaches ‘N’ Cream Day and National Selfie Day! It’s also the beginning of National Boys & Girls Club Week (June 21-25 for 2021, as this changes annually) – #WhateverItTakes & #BGCWeek!

Tuesday, June 22nd, is… National Chocolate Eclair Day and National Onion Rings Day, in honor of which, here is a repeat of our family’s favorite onion rings from Mom’s Secret RecipesTM files.

Wednesday, June 23rd, is… National Detroit-Style Pizza Day, National Hydration Day, National Pink Day, and National Pecan Sandies Day!

Thursday, June 24th, is… National Pralines Day and, as the last Thursday in June, it’s also National Bomb Pop Day!

Friday, June 25th, is… National Strawberry Parfait Day, National Catfish Day, and Take Your Dog to Work Day (which is the Friday after Father’s Day!

Saturday, June 26th, is… National Coconut Day, National Beautician’s Day, National Chocolate Pudding Day, and Summersgiving (which is always the first Saturday after Summer Solstice begins)!

Sunday, June 27th, is… National Onion Day, National Ice Cream Cake Day, and National Orange Blossom Day!


…25 down and 27 to go!


Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Smile Power

Happy Monday everyone! I hope today holds something about which you can smile. I always look forward to Mondays, myself, because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!



Today is the start of National Etiquette Week, which ends this Friday! Etiquette is a code of customs for polite manners and behaviors in society. Some examples of proper etiquette are saying “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me”, being punctual and professional and respectful, speaking with kindness and honesty, smiling at people and looking them in the eye, not interrupting others, giving compliments and not criticizing, as well as not being boastful or arrogant.

The list goes on and on! Reasoning and civilized behaviors are what distinguish human beings from animals. We start to learn etiquette at a very young age – from our parents and family, as well as from institutions like schools, churches, and businesses. There are many different codes of etiquette, depending on a variety of diverse places and events; such as corporations, meetings, weddings, funerals, dining and eating, talking on the phone, and even bathroom usage.

‘I believe these people agree that there is a greater need to recognize decency and honesty, but in good taste, savoring dependability, unselfishness, compassion and, yes, good manners – all of which are basic to the good life for both the individual and the community.’ – Helen Hayes (in a commencement address) [As seen in… This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 17).]

Etiquette is similar to what we all learned in kindergarten. According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum (the author) “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.”


‘Smile and the world smiles with you!’ – Stanley Gordon West

By the way, since smiling is a small part of good etiquette, I also want to mention that tomorrow is (among other things) National Smile Power Day! If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because we just celebrated National Smile Day two weeks ago! But who couldn’t use another reason for smiling? Smiling can practically cure what ails you or, at the very least, help you deal with “it” better.

The power of smiling – no matter if you’re the giver or receiver – activates certain networks in our brains that positively improves our feelings, attitudes, and mindsets; while reducing stress, anxiety, and tension. Smiling prompts the brain to reduce cortisol, while producing endorphins and serotonin, which simply makes you feel better, overall.

There are many scientific studies out there that show all the health benefits from smiling (and genuine laughing, which can’t be done without smiling)! It makes you feel good and feeling good makes you smile even more, which causes a chain reaction in people receiving a smile from someone else and paying it forward to others. It’s a good kind of contagion! BEST OF ALL – IT’S FREE!


This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 4)



When doctors told Norman Cousins that he had one chance in 500 to live, he remembered the old saying that ‘laughter [was] the best medicine’. Cousins then asked Allen Funt, producer of the TV show ‘Candid Camera’ to send him films of past ‘Candid Camera’ classics and a motion picture projector.

Cousins soon made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine laughter would give him at least two hours of pain-free sleep. Cousins and his doctors made the startling discovery that laughter not only eased his pain, but also produced measurable changes in his body chemistry – small but lasting drops in the dangerously high sedimentation rate of his red blood cells. [Cousins wrote:]

‘The life force may be the least understood force on Earth. William James said that human beings tend to live too far within self-imposed limits. It is possible that these limits will recede when we respect more fully, the natural drive of the human mind and body toward perfectibility and regeneration. Protecting and cherishing that natural drive may well represent the finest exercise of human freedom.’

The power of a smile can welcome a new friend or simply make people feel comfortable. One of the most attractive features of people, in general, is a genuine smile. It’s like an open invitation that says you’re friendly and want to relate with others. Additionally, smiling also gives the perception of being trustworthy and agreeable. A true smile shows others that you’re willing to cooperate and worthy of their time and attention.

Many things used to make Mom smile, even when she felt like she was at her wit’s end. Seeing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren was probably at the top of the list. Listening to music (anything from Frank Sinatra to Kenny Rodgers); watching uplifting, musical and comedic movies; reading her copies of The Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s Science And Health With Key To The Scriptures; as well as, journaling also ranked high on the list, too.

‘A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.’ – Proverbs 17:22


Excerpts from…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 17)


I’VE NEVER HEARD of anyone ‘suffering’ from wrinkles caused by smiling too much. But look at all of the furrowed foreheads on folks who have frowned their way through life. We can smile because we’re friendly, or because we’re sympathetic, or because we’re easily humored – but the smile of simply being connected with life in general is something we each deny ourselves by CHOICE! The frustration sets in when we can’t find anyone to blame for our not being able to smile!

‘To make a smile come, they say, brings 13 muscles into play – while if you want to thrive, you’ve got to work up 35!’ – Gloria Pitzer

‘Happy is the person who has a good supply of the milk of human kindness and knows how to keep it from souring.’ – Gloria Pitzer


The exhilaration that comes from hearty laughter is the most satisfying ‘high’ one can experience. The small smiles that lead up to laughter is a good start in the direction of finding the humorous and the enjoyable aspects of life. What we witness can either be dismissed or retained in our thoughts. If it makes you smile – hold on to the thought!


One of Mom’s fondest memories that would make her smile was of her relationship, over the years, with the Phil Donahue Show people. While, at first, it was overwhelming and exhausting, even devastating to a point; but it grew to be one of the best things that ever happened to Mom as the “Secret RecipesTM Detective” and one of the most treasured times of her life!


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 95-96)


THOUGH MANY EVENTS drift through my mind, surprisingly enough, it is the ‘Donahue’ show I recall most frequently, when I consider turning points.

We were settling down in our new home in St. Clair, with the office in the basement. We outgrew that arrangement in the short time and then rented a large office up town. The books became more successful than we anticipated in the newsletter circulation was growing to over 10,000 subscribers…

We were receiving a few hundred letters a day, which will usually do, from the radio shows and newspaper stories that I have been involved with as a consultant on franchise foods. In the spring of 1981, Carol Haddix, who had transferred from the Detroit Free Press to become food editor at the Chicago Tribune, ran a story about us.

The Donahue show people called to request that we appear on their show as soon as we could arrange it. We had just finished a television appearance with PM magazine out of Detroit and another with Channel 4 in Detroit for the noon news and the response was so overwhelming that we were hoping to put off any further publicity until we could take care of the current response…

The Donahue show appearance will always remain the single most important part of our growing, of opening many doors that would have been otherwise close to us in the field and for allowing me to let my light shine. Now to keep on shining!

So on July 6th, Paul and I flew to Chicago, staying at the Hyatt O’Hare, and did the Donahue show vibe, for an entire hour, on July 7, flying back that same afternoon. In the airport, on the way to catch our plane back to Detroit, a woman came up to us all smiles and said she had just seen us on television, and we told her how to send for the books.

The next day, however, 15,000 letters were waiting for us at the St. Clair post office. And every day for four months we picked up thousands of letters, having received by Christmas, well over 1 million letters requesting information on how to acquire our books, which were still available only by mail from our address…



Fudge is another thing that always made Mom smile! Therefore, in honor of National Fudge Day coming up on Wednesday, June 16th, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Niagara Falls Fudge” like she always enjoyed at Maple Leaf Village in Niagara Falls, Ontario!

As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 232)

[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…


June celebrates, among other things… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Candy Month, National Camping Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy MonthNational Great Outdoors Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Pollinators Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!

Other observances happening this week include:

June 13-19 is National Little League Week and National Flag Week (which is always the week of National Flag Day)! Add an extra day for Men’s Health Week (which always starts the second Sunday in June & ends on Father’s Day)! The third week in June also observes Animal Rights Awareness Week and Universal Father’s Week!


Today, June 14th, is also… the U.S. Army’s Birthday, National Strawberry Shortcake Day, National Flag Day, National Bourbon Day, and National New Mexico Day!

Tuesday, June 15th, is… Nature Photography Day!

Thursday, June 17th, is… National Eat Your Vegetables Day, National Stewart’s Root Beer Day, National Apple Strudel Day, and National Cherry Tart Day!

Friday, June 18th, is… National Go Fishing Day, National Splurge Day, Wear BLUE Day (always on the Friday before Father’s Day), and National Take Back the Lunch Break Day (which is the third Friday in June)!

Saturday, June 19th, is… National Garfield the Cat Day, Juneteenth, and National Martini Day!

Sunday, June 20th, is… American Eagle Day, National Vanilla Milkshake Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, Summer [Solstice] Begins (which is the longest Day of the Year), and National Seashell Day (which is the first Day of Summer)! As the third Sunday in June, it’s also Father’s Day and Turkey Lovers’ Day (plus, it’s Turkey Lovers’ Month, too)! Also, as the third Sunday in June, it’s the start of National Play Catch Week (June 20-26)!


…24 down and 28 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Original

Happy Monday and happy June to everyone! As for myself, I always look forward to Mondays because they’re my #52Chances each year, in which I get to share #MemoriesOfMyMom with all of you!


In the early years of her business, Mom sold her “secret recipes”, for imitating famous foods from famous places, on 4”x6” index cards (ready for filing) at a quarter each, or five for a dollar. The cards were printed on the mimeograph she kept in the laundry room. Mom’s collection of copycat recipes grew rapidly from a few to a few hundred.

She promoted her developments mostly through radio programs. However, having such a new and exceptional concept, television, newspapers and magazines picked up on it quickly, too. Mom blazed a trail of uniqueness around the Julia Childs and Betty Crocker “want-to-be’s” of that time. Suddenly, she was getting national and international recognition!

It didn’t seem to take long before Mom’s original 200 collection grew into thousands through requests from her growing fan base. She went from the index cards to monthly newsletters and multiple cookbooks in a flash. Despite the critics’ predictions that public interest in Mom’s concept was only a fad that wouldn’t last long, she made a very comfortable living for 40 years as the Secret RecipesTM Detective. Plus the copycats that followed her! Mom claimed, “It continues because it has merit!”

Mom’s cookbooks were different than any others. Aside from her exclusive recipes, there was also Mom’s crafty designs and lay-outs, comedic illustrations, food-for-thought articles, and food-for-the-soul inspirations tucked in between all the food-for-the-table ideas and served up with a dollop of satire!

No other cookbooks, at that time, offered such a combination – especially not with recipes for imitating the food industry’s countless dishes and products right at home! Mom was a pioneer, creating a totally innovative and different niche in the recipe industry.


As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St, Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 2)


The 200 original secret recipes were only the beginning of what I felt would eventually become a well-described collection of worthy recipes. And it happened exactly that way.

At first, we advertised the cards at $.25 each or five for $1. But as the combination choices began to complicate the assembling process and packaging, everything was pointing us in the direction of a recipe book. When that first book of secret recipes was completed, we had progressed beyond those 200 dishes that were then filed away and forgotten. Many of these restaurants whose secrets we’ve imitated are no longer in business and some products we re-created with recipes of our own, which are no longer available.

June is such a great month! It was this month, 29 years ago, in 1992 (through December 2005), that Mom became a regular monthly guest on WHBY’s Good Neighbor” show with Kathy Keene – with whom I’ve been visiting once a month, for a little over a year, myself. Kathy just retired last week. I’m going to miss those visits. It was so fun reminiscing with her about Mom!

Additionally, one of Mom’s self-published cookbooks, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (1997), came out 24 years ago, this month – which was also, at that time, 24 years since it had all started! That particular cookbook focused on Mom’s original collection of recipe cards that she developed and sold when she began her family-operated, cottage company from our dining room table.


As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St, Clair, MI; June 1997, pp. 28-30)


WHEN THE RECIPE CARDS became so popular that we were packaging them, sometimes in complete [$40] sets of the full 200 selections, I began to look at the possibilities of doing my own recipe books – less-expensive to the customer, surely, and less work for us considering all of the myriad choices one can have with 200 individual cards.

I assembled several single page books that I could mimeograph, remaining independent in the production of them, and came up with several workable ideas. It was very shortly thereafter, [from] a printer Paul was dealing with, at the company he worked for in the city, that we learned how to layout our own camera-ready copy and provide the recipes quite inexpensively. It was such a relief to be rid of the messy mimeograph machine!


Self-publishing is a hard row to hoe, but worth all efforts when the final product is the result of your dedication and determination not to fail. We hope to now be able to accept QVC’s offer to let them sell our books in a series of six, as they asked us to do just two weeks after we signed with Guthie-Renker [1993]. With that now long behind us, we are finally free to fix things the way they were before we fixed them!


It was a blessing in disguise that Paul’s assignments at the company where he worked had given him the job of purchasing agent, for it certainly prepared him strongly for the responsibilities that would come our way in branching out into self-publishing our books. Every department he worked in at Willey Sign Company gave him a basic foundation for being able to structure our business into a self-sufficient operation, from advertising to marketing and bookkeeping.

It was right after the ‘National Enquirer’ and ‘People’ magazine and ‘The Washington Post’ interviewed us and [printed] stories about our work, that he found himself spending every evening after he got home from his job, every weekend and his two-week vacation time, as well, working on our recipe business, that he knew he had to make a choice.

He had to give up his 20-year job and the benefits and such in order to devote full-time to Secret RecipesTM. It was a decision we have never regretted. With only $1000 in the bank and all of the bills that continued to come in day after day, we launched our ship of dreams and have never once had any regrets. Nor have we ever gone one day [as of this printing] since that date, August 13, 1976, without an order!


Mom thought that if she could’ve found another way by which to earn that much money for paying the bills, she would’ve given her work away for free, just for the joy of doing what she did! She never intended to ‘retire’ from her endeavors as the Recipe Detective. I think Dad eventually accepted that truth.

When Mom was first printing her work on the mimeograph, she didn’t look ahead for more sophisticated techniques. She took each day as it came, and each idea for a new book or newsletter issue, trying to present them with love, laughter, and sincerity; plus, a special enthusiasm like no one else.

Mom believed her cup had been filling up and running over for most of her life and never realized it until she was in her 50’s. She always thought that kind of wealth had nothing to do with money or fame, but with a sense of direction and resilience – “all the rugged way”!


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 86)


I WALKED INTO THE OFFICE [of the Roseville Community Enterprise], kids in tow, and John [McPartlin] asked, ‘what can I do for you?’ To that I replied, ‘it’s what I can do for YOU. I’m here to apply for the job of suburban correspondent.’

He said there had to be some mistake, for they were not looking for one. I told him I realize they were not looking for one, but nonetheless, they did NEED one, and I was prepared to provide them with good articles, reports on area municipal meetings and any other features they would require.

John was reluctant, I am sure, to give me the job, but the association did prove to be a very beneficial one for both of us. I learned to key line while working for him, which enables me to now lay out all of my own work, without the assistance of a ‘publisher’.

From my work with John, I also learned about advertising production and sales and proofreading, as well as typesetting with the IBM composer, the very machine that now sets the type of this page and all of our work, making it ‘camera-ready’.

The important lesson I learned, however, from working under John McPartlin was how to recognize a good story and how to write it properly. My favorite daily newspaper in Boston has the slogan, ‘to bless all mankind and injure no man’. That is how I would want to write my own publications.

I learned, among many things, that writers do labor for the love of their work, like a lot of people do, and they live with discipline and constant rejections, which ultimately will separate ‘the men from the boys’ in this profession. The gift is like a slave-master, and the writer must write no matter what else is neglected or sacrificed. So writers settle for rewards of recognition rather than financial security.

‘A writer’s tools are ideas and ideas are funny little things that don’t work unless you do!’ – Gloria Pitzer

Security, to a serious writer, is an amplitude of ideas. Seniority means nothing. Effort and ability mean everything. Competition? There are approximately 400,000 professional writers today [1989] with their articles or books in print, all clamoring for attention from a few thousand were the publications and book publishers. In my specific field, there are over 45,000 cookbooks on the market today [1989]. These are, both, collaborators and competitors.

A writer’s tools are ideas and ideas are funny little things that don’t work unless you do! Often, ideas come without an appointment – like at 2 o’clock in the morning, or in the middle of a pleasant lunch in a lovely restaurant. Then you pull out pen and paper and make notes because the ideas are fresh, and you cannot let yourself postpone the surge of inspiration you instinctively feel is touching you at that moment.



In honor of today, being National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, here is Mom’s imitation of Howard Johnson’s Chocolate Ice Cream, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 254)

[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…


June celebrates, among other things… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Candy Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea MonthNational Papaya Month, National Pollinators Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, National Turkey Lovers Month, National Camping Month, and National Great Outdoors Month!


International Clothesline Week and National Fishing and Boating Week (June 5-12); National Gardening Week and Community Health Improvement Week (June 6-12); National Little League Week and National Flag Week (June 13-19); and Men’s Health Week (June 13-20)!

Today is also… National VCR Day and National Oklahoma Day!

Tuesday is… National Best Friends Day and National Upsy Daisy Day!

Wednesday is… National Donald Duck Day and National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day!

Thursday is… National Egg Roll Day, National Iced Tea Day, National Black Cow Day, and National Herbs and Spices Day!

Friday is… National Making Life Beautiful Day, National Corn on the Cob Day, and National German Chocolate Cake Day!

Saturday is… National Red Rose Day, National Jerky Day, National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, National Loving Day, and National Rosé Day!

Sunday is… National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day, National Weed Your Garden Day, National Sewing Machine Day, and National Children’s Day!


…23 down and 29 to go!