I hope you’re hungry – building utility culture through recipes

By Rebecca Harris, Research Analyst –

In a 2016 interview for Success Magazine, Guy Fieri said:

“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.”

Food indeed brings people together, but, in the utility world, food culture is often reserved for smaller utilities or cooperatives. Yet both We Energies, at 1.1 million electric and 1.1 gas customers, and Hawaiian Electric Company, at 460,000 customers, have long-held traditions of bringing their customers together through food.

Both We Energies and HECO began recipe-based programs in the early 20th century to encourage customers to use their electric and gas appliances. As kitchen appliances became commonplace, the tradition evolved in both communities.

HECO’s Electric Kitchen program began in 1926 as demonstrations in the company’s historic auditorium, moving to larger venues as the program gained popularity. Electric Kitchen transitioned to a television show that ran from 1995 to 2005. Today, the tradition continues through the Electric Kitchen website and HECO’s monthly newsletter Ho’oku’i.

In 2017, HECO continued celebrating local food culture by creating a YouTube series called Electric Eats. The videos highlight local restaurants and favorite dishes from each business.

We Energies first published its holiday cookbook in 1928. After a two-decade hiatus, We Energies restarted the tradition in 2006 with an annual cookie recipe collection, called the Cookie Book. The annual cookbook is very popular and gives a small-town feel to a large utility. The 2017 edition of the Cookie Book features Wisconsin products, including butter, cherries, cranberries, honey, maple and, of course, various cheeses.

Learn more about We Energies’ holiday tradition and community development in an upcoming Chartwell webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Warning: Don’t come on an empty stomach.

Register for Chartwell’s webinar, “The We Energies Cookie Book: Sustaining an Ongoing Tradition,” here.

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