Don’t ask me why I accepted the challenge – and it wasn’t even the Pepsi challenge, mind you – but, it seems, most every radio show I have done [1976 to 1983] always brings the same question: “What recipe CAN’T you crack?” [The response] was always, “Cool Whip and Coca-Cola!” Finally, one day, I decided to see just how difficult it would be. 45 days and over 100 tests later, this is as close as I could come… Thus, calling it “Close-A-Cola”.
¼ cup cold black coffee
2 teaspoons Lipton instant lemon-tea powder
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 level teaspoon sugar
a few grains of pepper
2-3 ounces club soda
For 1 drink, mix well, the coffee, tea powder, vanilla extract, sugar, and pepper. Add in equal parts with club soda. Pour over ice and enjoy!
Once again, it’s National Small Business Week! Small Business Saturday is officially the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but I think it should be observed EVERY Saturday – or any day that ends in “y”, for that matter.
First Friday is a special, monthly event that various communities celebrate. It brings small businesses together with arts and entertainment, attracting locals to explore their downtown area more. WebstaurantStore.com’s blog, What is First Friday, is an excellent read about what this kind of event does for small local businesses, in their communities.
The SBA describes small businesses simply as having less than 500 employees. And so called “Mom & Pop shops” (which are very small businesses) are key contributors to the American economy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Small businesses are the backbone of every community, as well as our country as a whole. Most towns also have a Chamber of Commerce, which is another excellent source through which small businesses can network with each other and their community, to better their company.
“Mom & Pop” is a popular expression, used to describe very small, independent, generally family-owned businesses. These “shops” are typically in one location and are operated by a small number of family members, serving their local community. By the way, National Independent Retailer Month is officially observed in July.
I’ve often shared Mom’s story, of how she quit her job at a local newspaper, in the early 1970s, and went home to start her own small business, using her innovative copycat cookery concept for “eating out at home”.
It was in the early 1970s, while writing a food column for a local newspaper, that Mom broke new ground in the food industry, with her “copycat cookery”. While saving on our family budget and answering the similar needs of her readers, she discovered how to imitate America’s favorite fast foods, restaurant dishes, and grocery products right at home!
At first, the editors, where she was working, loved it because the readers loved it. Then a food company, from which Mom imitated a dish, complained to them and threatened to pull their ads (and money) from the paper. Rather than go back to writing old boring recipes and content, Mom decided to launch her own small news and recipes business.
She never really knew what was in the closely guarded secret recipes of the food industry – unless someone shared a recipe with her, which a few did – but Mom did know how to investigate a dish or food product (by look, taste, smell, touch, etc.), figuring out how to make it herself.
For 40 years Mom wrote and, with Dad’s help, self-published more than 40 cookbooks, as well as hundreds of newsletter issues. Over the decades, her recipe catalog grew from a few dozen copycat recipe imitations to a couple hundred to tens of thousands! My sisters and I helped out whenever possible. It was definitely a FAMILY enterprise.
I don’t know a single, small business owner who doesn’t put in a LOT of hours (about 60-80 hours per week). Mom and Dad were no different. On a slow day, they’d have at least 100 letters to open, read, and answer. Besides the occasional TV appearance or media interview, throughout each week Mom also had regular radio interviews scheduled.
When Mom was on a big radio show (syndicated or large area coverage), there’d usually be, soon afterward, thousands of letters to go through and answer. They built up their business (and reputation), by giving their customers great service; being honest, dependable, and quick to respond to their requests.
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, p. 70)
HOW TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN RISKY BUSINESS
LET ME ASSURE YOU, there is no formula for furthering a business like ours. Many people have asked for advice in writing and publishing a cookbook or putting out a newsletter like ours and have seemed so disappointed when I also assure them that I cannot convey to them in a brief letter [or] conversation, what it has taken me nearly 20 years to learn, mostly through experience, through trial and error – sometimes a lot of error!
But it is always a learning experience, as was the case with Thomas Edison when he was trying to invent the dry cell battery. After 200 tests and all failures, somebody else came out with the invention. Reporters asked Edison how he felt about his 200 failures, to which he replied: ‘Those weren’t 200 failures, at all. They were 200 things I found that wouldn’t work!’
Today is also the 32-year anniversary of Mom’s 1991 appearance on the Kelly & Company show (WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, in Detroit). That was her second appearance. The first time was a little more than six months before that, in October 1990. It went so well and they had such a great response from viewers, the producers were compelled to invite her back, again.
By the way, pictured below is the afore mentioned “Butter Crust, Pie Crust (like Baker’s Square)” recipe (in the picture above). It’s a re-share from October 8, 2018. Check out the Recipes tab for more of Mom’s copycat creations that I’ve shared in my blog posts.
‘THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE I know are those who discover that what they should be doing and what they are doing are the same thing!’– Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 19)
For 20 years, starting in 1974, Mom was on many TV and radio talk shows, locally (Detroit/Southeastern Michigan area) as well as nationally and even internationally, promoting her copycat cookery concept, which quickly took the world by storm. As the food industry grew and evolved, so did Mom’s recipe “catalog”.
ONE THING I’LL SAY for being on TV, people remember you. Sometimes it’s nice. On Mother’s Day, Paul took me to The Edison Inn, in Port Huron, for dinner. A nice looking couple at the next table smiled and nodded. My first thought was [she] was a neighbor or somebody I may have bowled with.
But shortly they came over and introduced themselves and she said she had seen me on television the week before. I was amazed. She said she almost didn’t watch the show that day but the friend she walked with insisted they be back by 9 o’clock because the recipe detective was going to be on Kelly & Co.
So she watched the show, too, and sent [a request] that day for our sample recipes. She was so pleased when she received them back two days later. And this brings up another point – WHY, when we do radio or TV for that matter, Paul and I insist that the mail come to our address.
Whenever it has gone to a station, with the promise to the listeners or viewers that they would forward it on to us, it is weeks later. By that time, the folks who wrote might have forgotten what they wrote for or were holding us responsible for the poor service they received.
Paul insists on good service to our readers on all counts! And it gives us one more job to do if we have to sit down and apologize to dozens [or hundreds or thousands] of people that we received their letters weeks after the offer was made.
Since 1977, the activity of this family enterprise has been our only source of income. My husband, Paul, left his own job of 20 years to devote [his] full time and attention to managing this work; and the precision and honesty with which he carries out each and every business detail has made it the success that it is, believe me!
His official title, he claims, is ‘Chairman of the Broad’ – but I reserve the right to revise his spelling! It is a wonderful business to be in, in spite of the misconception that it’s a job, when really it’s a joy! And I continue to give thanks. My cup runneth over and over!
Additionally, Thursday is National Eat What You Want Day! Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to eat whatever they want. It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. Thus, in the late 1970s, while dieting, Mom adapted or re-invented some of her recipes to still enjoy, without all the calories. She called it “taking the junk out of junk food.”
In December 1979, Mom launched her first “Diet Secrets” issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Dieter’s Digest. And, when Dad found out he was diabetic, Mom revamped even more of her recipes to accommodate his new, essential low-carb diet.
Mom also invented another new concept with-in her copycat cookery concept. She called it “short-cut cookery”, using 5 ingredients or less to accomplish the same end result as a longer list would achieve but with less work.
For example, Mom discovered that mayonnaise made a great substitute for eggs and oil. Likewise, she found that cake and pudding mixes contained many of the long list of dry ingredients found in things like from-scratch cookies and brownies.
I miss her a lot, especially now, as we approach Mother’s Day! Hug your mom if you can!
In honor of TODAY, being National Have A Coke Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe, for what she called Close-A-Cola; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 267). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].