Mother’s Day is coming soon but there are also many other reasons for me to celebrate my mom this week! For one, it’s National Inventor’s Month! In the early 1970s, Mom broke new ground in the food industry, with her “invention” of “copycat cookery”, by imitating Americans’ favorite fast foods, restaurant dishes, and grocery products right at home!
Mom took the junk out of the junk foods that the critics warned us not to eat. For 40 years she wrote and self- published 40+ cookbooks, as well as hundreds of newsletter issues. Over the decades, her recipe catalog grew from a couple hundred imitations to tens of thousands! I’m still working on a master index list of all of her recipes.
Mom was on many TV and radio talk shows, locally as well as nationally and even internationally, promoting her copycat cookery concept that was taking the world by storm. As the food industry grew and evolved, so did Mom’s recipes! She also covered recipes for different needs such as sugar-free and low-carb diets and special, homemade, grocery products.
On top of all that, Mom also invented a new concept with-in her copycat cookery. She called it short-cut cookery – using 5 ingredients or less to accomplish the same end result as a longer list would achieve. For example, Mom discovered that mayonnaise made a great substitute for eggs and oil, while cake and pudding mixes contained many of the long list of dry ingredients found in things like from-scratch-cookies.
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 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!’
Additionally, it’s also National Small Business Week! I’ve shared Mom’s story so many times, about how she quit her job at the newspaper and went home to start her own cottage-style, dining-room-table, recipe-publishing business, with her copycat cookery concept of “eating out at home”.
Mom definitely broke new ground, in the food industry, with her concept of imitating famous fast food fares and popular restaurant dishes at home, without any fancy gadgets or ingredients that waste money. If it saved her family’s food budget, Mom wanted to share it with the world!
‘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)
Mom had a knack for branding and promoting herself, her cooking concepts, her writings, her drawings, and her recipes. She was a very talented “Jill-of-many-trades”. I fondly remember when she used to take me and my sisters to the various shopping malls and department stores for a day of “working” and shopping, combined with lunch, too!
Each of us girls would get a handful of Mom’s business cards and, while we shopped, we’d stick them in various places throughout the stores; such as in the pockets of clothes and purses and inside the covers of books, just to name a few. We’d often take a lunch break in a Hudson’s dining room – one of Mom’s favorite places, as she imitated almost three dozen of their dishes (eight of which are in her last book)!
I always thought it was so fun! Looking back, it was a very innovative way for Mom to advertise, locally, to her target audience; which, at that time, were other homemakers, like herself. Mom found her inspiration for this marketing method from an interview she had heard of an award-winning car salesman from the Detroit area.
MORE 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. 43)
To make the mimeograph pay for itself, I even printed up my own business cards on it, using dime-store construction paper and then cutting the cards apart with scissors until I had neat little stacks of about 50 [each] and a total of 200-300 cards. These I distributed at the mall whenever and wherever we might be in one. Paul did not know I was doing this, at first, either, or he would’ve disapproved.
It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too.
I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.
From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [area of] the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores. From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response.
Last month, we celebrated National Hug a Newsperson Day and National Columnists’ Day! Thursday is National Cartoonists Day! Mom wore each hat proudly in her lifetime – and she really did wear a lot of hats! I miss her a lot, especially as we approach next Sunday, which is Mother’s Day! Hug your mom if you can!
Today is National Truffle Day! In honor, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for homemade Truffles, from her self-published cookbook, The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 199).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some of May’s national observances include… American Cheese Month, Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month, National Stroke Awareness Month, Older Americans Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Hamburger Month, National Photography Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
Today is the first Monday in May (for 2022) and as such it’s also the start of… Teacher Appreciation Week!
Tomorrow is… National Garden Meditation Day, National Chocolate Custard Day, National Raspberry Pop Over Day, and National Montana Day! Plus, as Tuesday of the first week in May (for 2022), it’s also… National Teacher Appreciation Day!
May 7th is… National Packaging Design Day, National Paste-Up Day, and National Roast Leg of Lamb Day! Plus, as the first Saturday in May (for 2022), it’s also… National Scrapbook Day, National Homebrew Day, Join Hands Day, and National Play Outside Day (which is on the 1st Saturday of EVERY month)!
Sunday, May 8th, is also… National Coconut Cream Pie Day and National Have A Coke Day! [NOTE: This is also the anniversary of Jeopardy referencing Mom & “The Colonel” (in 1986), as well as her second appearance on the Kelly & Company show (in 1991, on WXYZ-TV; channel 7, Detroit).]
…18 down and 34 to go!