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Thursday, May 15, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Erik Lacitis / Times staff columnist

Wait till you hear what's in that Oreo filling

The news story of the week is that a San Francisco attorney sued to stop sales of Oreo cookies to California kids, although late yesterday he dropped the suit, saying he had made his point.

Well, the lawyers can try to stop junk-food sales, but you can't win. Recipe expert Gloria Pitzer knows. She knows all too well what we Americans crave.

I hadn't talked to her for a few years. She's now 67, and for nearly three decades she's been making a pretty good living selling books from her home in Marysville, Mich. Book sales have been good enough that long ago, her husband, Paul, quit his job as a plant manager to help run the business.

Gloria has written 36 of the books, eight of which are still available, and she knows that when I give out her address, you'll send for free sample recipes. You can't control yourself.

All the books have one single theme: They replicate the formulas for those popular junk foods, all those menu items you love at fast-food joints.

Want to make yourself a gallon of stuff that tastes just like the special sauce on a Big Mac? Gloria shows you how. Want to make enough filling for the equivalent of 1,000 Hostess Twinkies? Gloria has the recipe.

The San Francisco attorney sued because Oreo cookies contain trans fats, which have been linked to various diseases. A spokesman for Kraft Foods has been quoted in wire stories saying the company was exploring ways to reduce levels of saturated and trans fats in its products. But he also said this stuff was best left to health professionals, not judges.

Actually, I think that the attorney trying to save kids from obesity should do something else other than sue. He should go to schools and shows kids Gloria's duplicated recipe for "Gloreo Cookie Filling." She changes the name so corporate lawyers don't come after her.

When I first wrote about her, I made the Gloreo recipe and tested it in the newsroom. It was pronounced to taste just like the real thing. Here it is (yields 1½ pounds of cookie filling):

- 1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 cup Crisco
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pound plus 1 cup powdered sugar

Soften gelatin in the cold water. Place in a heatproof cup in a bowl of hot water until it becomes clear. Meanwhile, beat the Crisco until light and fluffy, adding sugar and vanilla. Beat well (about 10 minutes). Cool the gelatin and beat into the filling.

Gloria told me she was quite upset about the Oreo lawsuit.

"It's kind of like suing God for tornado damage in the Midwest," she said. "These frivolous lawsuits have to stop. They should fine the lawyers for bringing them in the first place. I feel Oreo is a great product. I'd do a commercial for them for free.

"Do you know what I just did? I bought 20 packages of Oreos and divided them up among our five kids."

I told Gloria that if people actually saw the Oreo filling ingredients displayed on a table — especially that one cup of Crisco — that they might think twice about gobbling down the cookies. Gloria said she didn't think it'd matter. A great-tasting cookie is a great-tasting cookie.

By the way, at age 67, Gloria is 5 feet 4 inches, weighs 145 pounds and is in great health. And you bet that she frequents fast-food places.

"I love the McDonald's fish sandwiches. For breakfast, I love their potato patties, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, always the same. I love their scrambled eggs. I always get that, and a great big orange juice," she said.

The thing is, Gloria said, she only eats one of the potato patties. She paces herself. And believe it or not, you can order a salad at a fast-food place.

"We go to a restaurant, and I'll watch people order. They order two or three starches. Why no salad? And for dessert, why not fruit?" she said.

But enough of this nutrition talk. Want to make a bowl of filling just like they put in Twinkies? Here's Gloria's "Twinkle" filling:

- 1/2 pound butter
- 1 pound container of ready-to-spread vanilla frosting
- 1 cup powdered sugar

Beat butter until creamy. Dump in powdered sugar and vanilla frosting. You beat the filling for 5 minutes.

Hmmm-hmmm. Two sticks of butter right in your tummy, unless you remember Gloria's admonition to "pace yourself."

I'm sure you'll do just that when you're staring at that bowl in the fridge at midnight.

If you send Gloria a self-addressed, self-stamped envelope, she'll send you back a bunch of her recipes. The address is Secret Recipes, Box 237, Marysville, Mich., 48040.

About the only recipe that Gloria hasn't been able to match is the Coca-Cola formula. "I gave up," she said. "It's so perfect."

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com.

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