Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Know Your Customers

Thank God it’s Monday, again. I look forward to all Mondays. They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you. Therefore, happy Monday!



This Thursday, being the third Thursday of the second quarter, for 2024, is… Get to Know Your Customers Day. Successful business owners, big or small, realize it’s important to know who their customers are and what they like – especially if they want them to be repeat customers (who give positive reviews).

Friendly customer service is probably the top reason why customers are faithful to any business, even over pricing. It’s well known that small businesses are the best at knowing their customer base and giving great, personable service.

Mom and Dad’s small, family business was mail order based and never had a brick-and-mortar store for customers to patron. Mom found the best way to get to know their customers was through the radio shows, in which she participated. Radio was her “home away from home” – while being at home – and her audience was like family.

Immediately, Mom formed a seemingly natural friendship and partnership with countless radio programs, starting with Detroit’s own Bob Allison and his Ask Your Neighbor show. Word spread quickly about the smalltown, Michigan housewife turned fast food sleuth and copycat cook.

She had a special talent for determining the flavor sources in almost any restaurant dish or supermarket product. Some of Mom’s recipes used short cuts with unlikely ingredient combinations that were unheard of then, like cake mix and mayonnaise, to achieve a certain flavor, color or texture.

More importantly, she also had a special talent for promoting herself and her unique creations. Having worked in the newspaper business for years, before starting her own family-run business, Mom knew right away who her target audience was and how to reach them.

She participated in thousands of radio shows (1974 to 2014) all over North America – and some overseas. She was also on local (Detroit/Windsor area) TV programs, demonstrating her popular food imitations; which led to national TV shows, including The Phil Donahue Show and ABC’s Home show (both, twice).


My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop

(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clar, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 75)


WE EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE to inspire…The care and concern that an author has for their readers is part of the pleasure of presenting interesting ideas in either an entertaining way or in an informative way. I try to balance my own presentations between the two.

When I am broadcasting over the numerous radio stations around the country, sometimes around the world, I try to lift the listener to a new height of interest and enthusiasm, and I leave the serious side of nutrition to the experts, who have the medical background to support their claims.

My hope is to present my recipes in such a way that cooking is a joy and never a job! I try to present these recipes with the same concern as I do giving a gift to a special friend.

Each of our 5 children, who have grown up helping Paul and me with these recipes, have gone out into the world with this legacy of love and enthusiasm. We can only hope that they use what we have given them.

In the beginning, Mom sold her recipes, individually, on 4×6-inch file cards. She also created a free sample sheet of a dozen or so of her most popular recipes, with ordering information, for getting more recipes and her newsletter. They were sent out to everyone who sent her an SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope).

Mom’s catalog of secret recipes grew quickly and the requests for more imitations were endless. Hence, she discontinued her individual recipe cards and started self-publishing her own cookbooks, at about one a year for almost 40 years. For decades, she continued offering potential customers free sample recipes and ordering information for an SASE.

Since they were only licensed as a mail-order business, Mom and Dad didn’t have a brick-and-mortar store. Mom thought it was even more important for them to reach out to and get to know their customers through various media sources – radio was her favorite resource. She kept her customers, coming back for more, by treating them like family.


My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 65-66)


AN ORDINARY DAY for us begins at 6:30 AM. Even though, I may have had a midnight or middle of the night radio show to do, the alarm still goes off at the crack of dawn.

I realized some time ago that I could not roll out of bed and go directly to the stove to make the coffee and scramble the eggs and then, upon cleaning up after all of that, still go directly to my drawing board and my IBM composer for the rest of a long day.

I could but I would not have had a good attitude. So, Paul and I go, instead, to the restaurant in the mall downtown and let THEM make the coffee and scramble the eggs for us.

Then we stop by the post office and pick up the mail and, by the time we are back home, I feel like a normal working person who leaves the house every morning to go to their office.

Depending on how swamped we are with mail and subscriber contacts, book orders and government papers to be filled out and filed, we will try to take a break around noon for either a sandwich at our desks…

Better yet, we’ll run down the street to the Burger King for an orange juice and fish sandwich or over to The Voyageur [restaurant] for half of a ‘Captain’s Salad’ or a croissant special and a view of the St. Clair River, with freighters passing up and down stream that we can feel truly inspired and refreshed when we leave there.

A break like that will renew our creative energies and also give us a chance to ‘visit’ with each other – a practice that few married couples really seem to enjoy much anymore – if they ever did at all.

These breaking off periods of getting away from the house and our office within, look to others, I suppose, as if we really aren’t that busy that we can frequent the local restaurants as much as we do.

What they don’t see, however, is the kitchen where, for three or four solid hours, I was testing and trying to develop a particular recipe – making it perhaps three or four times before either giving up on it or feeling victorious and happy to print it in the next newsletter.

We take a lot of kidding about how often I am seen pushing a cart in the local supermarket and how often I am seen ‘eating out’ that you’d ever guess I cooked at all.

It is, because I try to maintain and encourage a happy balance between the recipe testing and our normal life with friends and family, that we have never found the enterprise in which we are engaged, a burden to us… My cup runneth over and over and over! I WOULDN’T GIVE IT UP FOR THE WORLD!

By five or six o’clock in the evening, we’re ready for another break; and, in between, I have probably talked to two or three radio stations, answering questions for their listeners as they call into the station; which, by the miracle of telephone, puts us in touch with each other as if the host, the listener and I were all in the same room!

The radio visits that began with [our] good friend, Bob Allison, and his very successful show [‘Ask Your Neighbor’], with nearly 30 years, opened so many interesting and helpful doors for us.

All of the other radio stations since, with whom I work, became a part of our schedule after years of providing listeners with the right information, with entertaining ideas and friendship and concern for their needs.

Sometimes I have received calls from hosts of radio shows who heard me on another station than their own and asked to set up an hour with them. Some of the programs run two hours.

Many of them only use 15 minutes in which to discuss a healthy menu on the latest restaurant dish to imitate at home. No two radio shows are ever exactly alike, yet in one respect they are all incredibly enthusiastic and inquisitive…

The first few cornerstones, in the building of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM empire, were from her fellow journalists, as well as radio talk show producers and their hosts. She continually mailed out advertising fliers that she designed, as well as complimentary copies of her work, to all those whom she thought could help promote her talents.

Mom carved out a unique niche in the food industry, during the early 1970s, when she dared to embrace the fast food and junk food fares that all the nutritionists of that time were warning the public against consuming. She grabbed the public’s attention by storm, by imitating them at home where she controlled the ingredients – taking the junk out of junk food.

Mom constantly found innovative ways to sell her creations, through placing business cards (everywhere and anywhere allowed), offering free samples, and promotional mailings to the media sources that catered to her focus group.

For decades, Mom’s newsletter, recipes, and collections of self-published cookbooks seized the interest of people all over the country and internationally. There wasn’t anything else like them, on the market – until new copycats began copying the ORIGINAL copycat cook.


In honor of TODAY, being National Banana Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Banana Cream Pie”; as seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 246). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].


*SPECIAL NOTE: Rinsing PEELED BANANAS in lemon juice and dusting in sugar will keep them white for nice desserts or salads. However, lemon juice on fresh-sliced bananas, to be used in a pie filling, must be blotted-well on paper towels, or the lemon juice will cause the cream filling to break down and become soupy.

This and other great household hints by Gloria Pitzer, can be seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 305). [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…


April observes, among other things… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Volunteer Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month.

This week, the third full week of April (for 2024), celebrates… National Volunteer Week.

Today is also… National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, National Rubber Eraser Day, National Take a Wild Guess Day, and National Tax Day.

Tomorrow is… National Eggs Benedict Day, National Orchid Day, and National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day.

Wednesday, April 17th, is… National Cheeseball Day and National Haiku Poetry Day.

Thursday, April 18th, is… National Animal Crackers Day, National Columnists’ Day, and National Poem In Your Pocket Day [which changes annually – April 18th for 2024].

Friday, April 19th, is… National Amaretto Day, National Garlic Day, and National North Dakota Day.

Saturday, April 20th, is… National Cheddar Fries Day, National Lima Bean Respect Day, National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day.

Sunday, April 21st, is… National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day.


…16 down, 36 more to go!

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