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Pickles now more than his hobby

Ma and Pa’s Pickles founder, Myron Lapin

By Arianna Macneil


A Gloucester man hopes his homemade pickles will provide customers with the perfect crunch.

It’s been about 13 years since Myron LaPine, 52, started pickling as a hobby.

During that time, driven by an early retirement in 2012, the Gloucester native has discovered his love for it, tinkered with his recipes, and won many blue ribbons at the Topsfield Fair.

Now, through a GoFundMe campaign, and an expansion into making jellies, jams, relishes, and other products, LaPine hopes to raise $5,000 to turn his hobby into a bona fide small business, Ma and Pa’s Pickles.

Making blue ribbon-winning pickles doesn’t come without times of trial and error — and also having friends willing to try them out.

“As you start passing things out to friends, it became a part-time job,” LaPine said. “A friend of mine, who’s since passed away now, talked me into trying the Topsfield Fair because he thought they were pretty good.”

That first year, LaPine came away with a third-place award for his bread and butter pickles and an honorable mentioned for the dill, he said.

“The very next year I changed one secret ingredient, then started four years of consecutive blue ribbons,” LaPine said.

The pickles were a hit, he said, along with blueberries he prepared in sugar water to top blueberry shortcake. That set his reign of excellence in motion — nine blue ribbons for nine consecutive years, LaPine said.

For LaPine, having this hobby helped him when physical problems forced him to retire.

“I’ve always been a dock worker,” LaPine said, adding that he spent most of his adult career working along Gloucester’s famed waterfront. “I’ve been down there my whole life.”

But a visit to the hospital in 2012 for an unrelated illness revealed that LaPine needed his hips replaced.

“I really needed to give up my job,” he said, adding that his doctors believed canning was a great way to keep LaPine busy.

As LaPine’s pickles and other goods have gained popularity at the fair, he said there are restaurants interested in serving them and he’s also had success selling them by the jar at the Cape Ann and Rockport farmers markets.

“I’ve got a couple of coffee shops that would buy them,” he said, adding that one restaurant representative was “ecstatic.” “I’ve had a ton of interest; I’ve given out millions of samples.”

Laurie Lufkin, an Essex resident and fellow Topsfield Fair blue ribbon winner who also submits recipes to Pillsbury, said she intends to send LaPine some money for his project. The two were featured together in the winter 2014 edition of Cape Ann Magazine, the Gloucester Daily Times’ sister publication, for their winning recipes.

Ma & Pa's logo“His passion for pickles should turn into a great small business,” Lufkin said. “He’s turned me from a bread and butter pickle hater to a bread and butter pickle lover. … It’s important that we support small, local food projects in the area.”

That said, LaPine launched his GoFundMe March 28. So far, he had raised $395, as of Tuesday.

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission will give him around $3,000 because of his disability, he said, but the rest will have to come from his supporters. The money, he said, would go toward helping him with the expenses of renting out a commercial kitchen — in the neighborhood of $150 per day on average — and covering his $1 million liability insurance premiums, between $600 and $700 annually, he said.

“I’m hoping to stay on Cape Ann,” he said of his kitchen location preference. There’s one in Lowell that’s quite a bit cheaper, he said, but added that he doesn’t want to travel that far.

There’s also lab testing for the state Department of Public Health “to make sure they’re consumer safe,” according to LaPine, as well as mason jars, labels and other supplies.

Once he has financial backing and can get his business up and running, LaPine said he hopes to have T-shirts made for those who helped him.

“It’s something I think would really take,” he said. “People are looking for stuff that is more homemade, more organic.” — AP/Gloucester Times


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