Irwin Zucker Salutes Leo Pearlstein

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Food public relations pioneer Leo Pearlstein was the founder and President of Lee & Associates, Inc., a public relations and advertising firm, which he opened in 1950. He ran the company with his partners, two of his three sons, Howard and Frank Pearlstein, until it closed shop in 2013. His oldest son, David, is in the music industry. His wife of 69 years, Helen, passed away in 2012 at age 91. He lives in Los Angeles, near his three sons and their families.

Leo also founded and was Director of Western Research Kitchens, the food and beverage division of his agency, and his agency was named as one of the top agencies in the country that specialized in food and beverage clients.

Because of his experience and expertise with promoting food and beverage products, Leo has been called the “Culinary King of Public Relations.”

Using an array of food industry experts to inform consumers about his clients’ various products, including top chefs, home economists, cookbook authors, nutritionists and medical doctors, Leo disseminated information throughout the media on food safety and preparation, serving suggestions and also glamorous recipes.

Also, due to the many relationships Leo developed over the years with publicity agents of many of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities, he was able to create tie-in publicity opportunities with his clients. Stars ranging from Abbott & Costello, Mickey Rooney, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Doris Day, and Jayne Mansfield, to Steve Allen, Groucho Marx, Dinah Shore, Phyllis Diller, Rita Moreno, James Stewart, Wayne Newton and many countless others, all dong publicity to help promote his clients’ products.

He was on the team that invented the “Pop-Up” turkey timer, and handled promotions for the California Turkey Advisory Board for over 25 years. Many of his client relationships lasted many years, such as with Mrs. Cubbison’s Foods, which lasted 60 years, until the company was sold.

Leo wrote four books: “Celebrity Stew,” “Recipes of the Stars,” Mrs. Cubbison’s Best Stuffing Cookbook,” and “Adventures in PR.” Until his retirement, he had been interviewed hundreds of times from coast-to-coast on TV and radio stations, as well as in local and national newspapers and magazines. He was known as a turkey and stuffing expert, as well as a food authority.

He had been very active in California agricultural commodities and generic food promotions, and had created and supervised programs for over 40 different advisory boards, trade associations and co-ops, as well as state and federally funded marketing groups. This included industries such as almonds, apples, artichokes, asparagus, boysenberries, chives, corn, eggs, figs, grapefruit, papayas, peaches, pineapples, plums, prunes, tomatoes, turkeys and various seafoods, as well as the California Fisheries & Seafood Institute for over 30 years, of which he is one of only two Lifetime Members ever elected to the organization.

Some of the commodity groups his agency had handled ranged from the Danish Dairy Board and the English Cheese Association to the Mexican shrimp industry and the New Zealand Trade Commission. He worked with large conglomerates, such as J.R. Simplot.

Some of the other major clients his agency promoted included Rold Gold Pretzels, Frito-Lay, American Home Foods, Los Angeles Smoking & Curing Company (LASCCO), and various Interstate Brands Corporation (IBC) bakery products, such as Marie Callender’s Croutons, Dolly Madison Cake Products, Weber’s Bread and several other bread brands. Some major pharmaceutical clients included Ciba-Geigy, Lederle Labs, and Johnson & Johnson. He also handled Hilton Hotels, as well as major beverage clients ranging from PepsiCo and the California Milk Industry to Somerset Importers (Johnnie Walker labels) and Suntory International.

Leo was invited to participate in the first President’s Council on Nutrition at the White House. He enjoyed memberships in many public relations and trade industry organizations, such as the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the International Foodservice Editorial Council, and the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, in addition to the Los Angeles Chefs d’Cuisine and the American Culinary Federation, for which he was also a consultant. He was also a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Leo received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing from the School of Merchandising, College of Commerce, at the University of Southern California, where he was honored with the Paul G. Hoffman Award, presented to the most outstanding marketing graduate.

We bet many of you would like to call Leo on his birthday or send him a card. Leo’s phone number is 323-936-6646 and his address is 6625 Moore Drive, Los Angeles, Ca 90048.

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