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.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
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, Merriam-Webster.com says the word means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…”; while Dictionary.com 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 Month, National 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!