Jul 22, 2013 • By

It all begins with pancakes

“The family that works together stays together.” It’s an Amish tenet that makes a lot of sense to me. And it’s one reason why I gather my extended family every Memorial Day weekend to open our cabin in northern Minnesota.

But getting people – especially children – to come along to do some hard work is always a challenge. So we do our best to make these outings fun. (Above is my nephew, Oliver, modeling our new waders from the Fleet Farm house of fashion.) And that begins with providing a lot of good food.

A new regional product from Pillsbury caught my eye. It’s Pancake Batter in a squirt bottle now available in eight states: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. All you do is squeeze the batter onto a griddle and you have a warm breakfast.


What better way to launch the work weekend that began with putting in our dock – just a week or so after the ice went out. It was cold and miserable and why having a warm breakfast is really critical.

Dock section

I reached out to the marketing manager for this product, Scott Dorman, and proposed a trial run for our work weekend. He gave me two bottles: whole wheat and buttermilk.

  Whole Wheat

I was skeptical because I’m serious about my pancakes and waffles, which are only served with real maple syrup. And fresh fruit  topped with Mountain High yoghurt.

Pancakes syrup

I’m actually a target market for a product: A dad whose cooking skills are pretty much limited to making pancakes on the weekend.

Long ago, while on a camping trip, I was introduced to a pancake batter where all you had to add was water. No eggs to crack. No milk. No vegetable oil. And they tasted great. At the time, I considered this a modern miracle.

But the Pillsbury Pancake Batter is even easier: All you do is squirt the batter on to a griddle.

I served them to two of my nephews, Oliver and Luke (at the moment my three kids all live too far away).

Luke, with exposed pipes, and Grant, by the metal pipes.

Unaided, as the market researchers say, Oliver said, “These are really good.” A few weeks later, I served the buttermilk variety to a friend (who is an excellent cook) and she said the same thing. Luke didn’t offer an opinion because he was too busy eating.

“The field tests have been very strong,” Scott told me. “The reception has been very positive.”

Pillsbury Pancake Batter is currently available in about 1,700 stores in the eight states mentioned above. You can find it at Certco, Cub Foods, Kroger (Dillon’s), Hy Vee, Fareway, Schnuck’s, Supervalu and Walmart, as well as at several more locations.

These are really good – perfect for the cabin, camping or midweek when you’re pressed for time to prepare breakfast.

While it’s true that the family that works together stays together, it’s also true that the family that plays together stays together. And sometimes having a warm breakfast is just what’s needed to get the fun rolling.