JoAnn & Vickie from Gooseberry Patch

September 5th, 2013
JoAnn & Vickie

The Gooseberry Patch founders were actually neighbors and stay-at-home moms who loved to cook when they started their business. Although both were influenced and taught to cook by their mothers, the flavors, ingredients and style of cooking provided two very different lessons for them.

Vickie, born and raised in the midwest, had learned to cook more traditional comfort foods such as pot roast and homemade chicken and noodles. While Jo Ann’s mother a more progressive cook, was always offering a variety of spices and ethnic foods to sit down and enjoy at the table together.

To this Vickie laughs and comments, “I never even tried rice growing up!”

What do your families think about all this? You've gone from over 200 cookbooks and an online recipe box, to a website, blog, facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and twitter.

“Our families have enjoyed the good food and treats always around, but really the business has always been a part of their everyday life,” said Vickie.

What has been your favorite memory from working together over the years?

As you can imagine, in 29 years you get to know someone pretty well. And on occasion an opportunity or two for a little fun would come about.

“We always had the most fun attending flea markets together,” says Jo Ann.

As she continues to reflect on fond memories, she teasingly reminds Vickie of the time she put soy crumbles in the chilli instead of ground beef. They both laugh, reminiscing, but nothing quite makes their eyes light up like the story about the anonymous squirrel cookies!

Back in the mid ‘80’s the founders had received a batch of squirrel-shaped cookies from someone who would like to offer the company a prototype of a squirrel-shaped cookie cutter.

“Times were different back then,” said Jo Ann. “We weren’t sure who she was, but we got her letter and the cookies looked good, so we indulged!” Laughing they both confess they never did hear from anyone about a squirrel-shaped cookie cutter afterward.

"When you think about our business relationship and our friendship, it's kind of amazing that we survived this long. Twenty-nine years...that's longer than many marriages!" jokes Vickie. "It's helped that we've kept a good sense of humor about things. We're always ready to laugh at ourselves, and each other."

Where did the name Gooseberry Patch come from?

“Geese were popular back then,” says Jo Ann “they were a symbol of the country lifestyle, which represented our brand.”

“Yeah almost everyone we knew had a goose decorated on their front porch or prominently placed somewhere in the house,” says Vickie

What's been the biggest surprise as you've worked on Church focused cookbooks?

“Over the years as stories and recipes have been submitted, we have come to understand how significant Election Day Dinners are in a church community. Many recipes are prepared for that purpose and are often shared with us after it’s been requested by individuals, following the dinner," said Jo Ann.

On holidays are you in charge of the cooking or do other family members take up the utensils?

“I cook for our family,” said Vickie “I like to.”

“Everyone likes to come home for the holidays,” adds Jo Ann.

But both ladies admitted they would never turn down a request to start washing the dishes.

If we snuck into your kitchen, what's your guilty convenience food you can't live without?

“Frozen Pie Crust,” said Jo Ann “It’s easy for quickly throwing together a breakfast quiche.” “Frozen French Fries,” said Vickie “the grandkids enjoy them for a treat.”

With more than 200 titles and nearly 9 million copies in print, Gooseberry Patch has grown from a kitchen-table operation to a nationally recognized best-selling publisher. Be sure to download the free recipe excerpts below.

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