I know for some people it's all about Christmas. But the holiday that gets me in the spirit of cheerful giving is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, you say? Well, yes. Because as many of you know, ‘tis the season for Grandma Elsie’s Famous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.
The tradition is long standing, and for those of you who don't know the story behind the pumpkin pie that's better than Oprah's (if I do say myself, and I do--I've tried Oprah's version), I'd like to share it. (For those of you who do, I hope you'll indulge me in a retelling to honor the woman whose generous spirit and tradition are behind our pies.)
Instead of getting holiday gifts for friends and neighbors, Elsie Edelstein made pumpkin pies and hand-delivered them before Thanksgiving. The blessing, as she used to say, was in the making (“food brings people together”) and in giving ("it’s better to give than receive!”)
A tradition that started with one creative and thoughtful woman was quickly adopted by her daughters and grandchildren, along with friends and neighbors.
And these aren’t any old pies.
These are the yummiest, most delicious, mouth-watering pumpkin pies you’ve ever tasted. Even people who don’t like pumpkin pies love her now-famous recipe.
For almost a decade, The Grossman Group has adopted her wonderful tradition and made pies for its in-town clients. It’s a terrific team-building project for the thoughtpartners, and a wonderful way for us to say thank you to clients and friends. Those outside Chicago receive the fixins and famous recipe to make a pie on their own.
The first pies were made in my kitchen almost 10 years ago. As the agency grew, so did the need for a larger space – and larger pots! Today, the team rents a local bakery, dons aprons, and gets to work at measuring, stirring, topping and packaging the hand-crafted pies.
I typically get a phone call each year from Grandma Elsie’s daughter Sara, who asks how many pies the team is making. “Grandma Elsie’s smiling and laughing (in heaven),” she said one year, dumbstruck by how many pies the thoughtpartners were hand-crafting. “Little did she know what she started.” One year when Sara wasn’t able to make pies; she put in “an order” for pies at The Grossman Group.
You know it’s a special tradition when clients call in early November wondering whether the agency is making pies again this year, and whether they’re on the list. One year, one of the thoughtpartners likened delivering pies during the week of Thanksgiving to “being the Publisher’s Clearinghouse guy with a big, fat check.” Many just-delivered pies never make it home, having been devoured at work.
We also have two delicious extensions to Grandma Elsie's reach, which were suggested to us by a colleague, Brad Whitworth, and his partner, Peg Champion. It turns out that Grandma Elsie’s spice mix isn't just a must-have for pies; it's also a must for their special pancake recipe and their perfect-for-fall cocktail. We hope you'll enjoy both.
Grandma Elsie, here’s to you! Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving.
- David Grossman