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The Loop

Apple of your pie

This is going to sound pretty un-American. I’m good with motherhood, but I don’t like apple pie. Apples, applesauce and variety of apple drinks, but apple pie, meh. Actually, I don’t like pie—pumpkin to cherry to mincemeat—period. Just give me the a la mode.

Still, I know a lot of people love apple pie and a farm in Williamson, the Wayne County town known as “The Core of Apple Country,” last month received kudos for its offering.

At a fall-themed media event in New York City, 50 attendees from media publications were asked to taste and vote on their favorite apple pie or apple crisp, submitted by the different regions of New York.

The winner was a caramel apple pecan pie from Lagoner Farms, a fifth-generation, century farm near Lake Ontario.

Mitzi Lagoner says a lot of effort and pride goes into each of their pies.

“I was up early in the morning peeling the apples, making the crust and crumb top from scratch, and drizzling on the caramel topping—and that was before I found out the pie was being entered into a contest,” she says.

After marrying into the Lagoner family, Mitzi became the driving force behind the bakery at Lagoner Farms and making everything from scratch.

Lagoner Farms is also the site of Embark Craft Ciderworks, which creates hard cider using apples from the farm.

Thanks for joining me

Nearly any newspaper column involves sharing a little bit of the writer’s personal life with readers. Since Feb. 3, 2006, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing an array of big and small events with the readers who share their precious time with me each week.

You’ve read about my favorite beverages and foods, my dog and a slew of pet peeves. You’ve witnessed no small number of political jibes and a fair amount of poking at folks who take themselves a bit too serious. And each holiday season you allowed me to let loose my inner Dr. Seuss when I presented my Christmas rhyming lines of type, that many seem to like but some likely consider tripe.

The goal of this column has been to provide some amusement, some news and some things that are interesting but don’t fit well in other parts of the newspaper. Some items have ticked off some people—we expected that when we revived the column after nearly a decade. More than anything I hope it did not bore you.

This is the final edition of the Loop for me as the column goes on hiatus coinciding with my departure today after nearly 21 years at the Rochester Business Journal. Thank you for sharing your time with me over the years.

—Mike Dickinson

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email [email protected].

The Loop

Solving problems

Rep. Tom Reed, who certainly has taken his fair share of slams since he early-on hitched his support to President Donald Trump, has gained some national attention for, we’re not kidding, bipartisanship.

Apparently, despite the plethora of obits published across the country, that word and that spirit still exist in some bastions of  D.C.

The Corning Republican, who represents a large swath of the Southern Tier as well as Ontario, Seneca and Yates counties in the Rochester region, co-chairs the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 44 members of the House of Representatives. The caucus consists of 22 Republicans and 22 Democrats. The other co-chair is Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D.-N.J.

Interestingly, if a member wants to join, he or she must bring a partner from the other party.

The caucus leaders do not name the membership, leaving it to individuals to declare their affiliation, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explained in an editorial praising the effort.

No doubt with the rancor and passion possessing many in the two major parties’ bases, coming out for bipartisanship might not be the best path to staying in office—or at least avoiding a primary. So for some their membership might be better to stay hush-hush.

Published reports credited the caucus’s muscle in pushing a proposal to avert a government shutdown in April, and it has made it a goal to pass tax reform and an infrastructure bill.

Indeed, Tom and Josh on May 3 announced the first win for the caucus after it used its influence to get the Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill passed.

“The Problem Solvers Caucus, nearly 40 members strong from both sides of the aisle, will be fighting for common sense principles that impact all Americans—Democrat, Republican, Independent—everyone,” said Tom, when he was elected co-chair in February.

Tom has been involved with the Problem Solvers Caucus since 2013, but early this year the caucus formalized its leadership structure, bylaws and standards, with plans to develop a more ambitious legislative agenda.

The caucus adopted rules that if three-quarters of its members agree on a position, the group will vote as a bloc on the House floor. Those rules mean, of course, that some representatives would have to cross party lines to trigger the three-fourths rule, but almost all members come from competitive districts, giving them more incentive to compromise, according to the Post-Gazette.

How will this bipartisanship fare long term? Stay tuned for 2018 elections.

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email [email protected].

The Loop

Cutting the mustard

News this week that spices firm McCormick & Co. had agreed to buy Reckitt Benckiser Group’s food business for $4.2 billion brought to mind a onetime local firm many longtimers here remember well.

The Reckitt’s unit portfolio includes an array of products, but one, French’s mustard, rose to fame here.

The Frenches came from New York City in 1883 and bought a Fairport flour mill, which burned down the following year. The family then relocated the flour mill to Rochester. At this time in history, mustard came in a very hot powder form. The Frenches were responsible for refining and taming the hot, European-style mustard to cater to the American palate.

The brothers worked on their recipes and in 1904 created a milder, ready-to-eat condiment called French’s Cream Salad Mustard.

They showcased this creamy mustard at the St. Louis World’s Fair that year, the same summer the hot dog came onto the scene. The two have been paired ever since.

The company built factories in Rochester in 1912 and in 1922. It employed over 1,000 workers at its peak in 1966, making it the area’s 15th-largest industrial firm.

But alas, the French brothers—George and Francis—did not have any male heirs to take over their company operations. In 1926, they sold it for $3.8 million to the firm now known as Reckitt.

French’s manufacturing operations moved out of Rochester in 1972; the company’s headquarters followed 15 years later, relocating to New Jersey.

The Loop through the years

This year the RBJ marks its 30th anniversary. As part of looking at that milestone, we came across a somewhat dingy green binder that dates back to the first version of this column, the Inner Loop. The binder—years before the web and our digital archive—starts with the Oct. 9, 1992 column. It was compiled then by another Mike—Mike Cosgrove.

The column continued, with different authors, until March 11, 1997. It was relaunched Feb. 3, 2006 and has continued since then. Its return to newsprint began with an item titled “Cash in, bow out.” The segment looked at Tom Golisano’s decision not to run for governor:

“So much for the adage: ‘Follow the money.’ Conventional wisdom pointed to a recent spate of stock sales by Paychex founder and chairman Tom Golisano as evidence of his plan to run for governor. In late December, the billionaire sold 250,600 shares of stock, worth some $9.75 million, SEC documents show. Political pundits and media saw the sales as evidence the self-funded politician was ready to hit the campaign trail again. He proved them all wrong on Tuesday when he declined to run.”

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email [email protected].