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Monday, November 3, 1997
Pottsville Republican/Evening Herald

Call her the `Pierogie Lady'
Shenandoah woman travels across nation to promote Mrs. T's
Staff Writer

Jean T. Kiskeravage's marketing of Mrs. T's Pierogies has included her making the Pasta Pockets on television.

SHENANDOAH -- Some people call Jean T. Kiskeravage the ``Pierogie Lady.'' That title sits well with the petite, spunky Shenandoah native who works as an event marketing specialist for Ateeco Inc. Her position requires her to promote Mrs. T's pierogies, dishing out samples at conventions and special events throughout Pennsylvania and the nation. She's on the road virtually every week from spring to fall, traveling by plane or pierogie buggy to places like Florida, Las Vegas or Grand Rapids, Mich. She has only had three weekends off since May, but Kiskeravage, 51, enjoys every minute. ``I really love it,'' she said. ``I never, ever dreamed I'd be in this position.''

By traveling and promoting Mrs. T's ``unique pasta pockets,'' Kiskeravage has developed close friendships. She's met athletes, including eight-time Ironman world champion Paula Newby Fraser, and entertainers, including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. Most recently she worked with Jimmy Sturr, whose New York-based polka band is a multiple Grammy Award winner. Last week, she had a television appearance in Nashville, Tenn., on TNN's ``Prime-Time Country.'' With 600 people in attendance, Sturr performed at one end of the auditorium. At the other end, Kiskeravage cooked and served up pierogies and distributed Mrs. T's shirts, hats and coupons as prizes. ``It was quite an experience,'' she said, proudly noting she had her picture taken with Nelson and Sturr. Kiskeravage's career at Ateeco began 15 years ago this December after working as a beautician and then as a sales clerk for 10 years at Boscov's in Pottsville. ``I just felt like I needed something different,'' she said.

Kiskeravage started in the production plant as a packer. About a year-and-a-half later, she began handing out pierogie samples at local supermarkets. The sample stands expanded to Wilkes-Barre, Reading and the Allentown area. When Ateeco began sponsoring triathalons, athletes and other sporting events, the coverage area spread even wider, and so did Kiskeravage's appearances at the sampling stands. She looks forward to her time in the office or on the road.

``She's just full of energy, and everyone wishes they had that much,'' said Teri A. Mann, Ateeco's associate marketing manager. ``She's always smiling.'' ``It's hard to keep up with her,'' echoed Timothy F. Twardzik, vice president of Ateeco. ``Jeanie really enjoys going out and serving the people and promoting Mrs. T's.'' If she's traveling by plane, she has pots and frying pans going with her in a large foot locker. The pierogies are shipped ahead of time. If she has a pierogie buggy a company van everything gets there simultaneously.

Kiskeravage has served thousands of pierogies at the conventions and shows she attends. In Nashville, she cooked and served four cases in a half hour. The cases contain several bags with 72 pierogies in each. ``It's amazing how many people ask `What is a pierogie,''' Kiskeravage said. ``Very rarely do we get a negative reaction.'' Her time on the road picks up in the spring and slows down by November. ``This year, I've worked the hardest, but I've enjoyed every minute of it,'' she said. ``I really hate to see the year end because it was so exciting.'' When the travel season slows, Kiskeravage spends more time at Ateeco headquarters and at home, where she lives with her mother, Elizabeth, 81. Her spare time also allows her to tend to some craft projects she set aside.

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