Mister Brisket continues tradition of sending 'Salamis to the Troops'

"My son Ben is doing his third tour in Afghanistan. Ben is the type of young man [who] thinks of others, not himself. When he finished school, his classmates applauded and stood when his name was announced and he walked across stage.  It was a small community, and every single one of them seemed to have a story to tell about some kindness he'd done for them.

I was not surprised at all when he decided to join the military. It suited his nature.

During his first tour, his eardrum was shattered. During his second, he was injured by shrapnel from an IED. When he came home, he never complained. I've prayed constantly for his safe return during this last tour. My means are limited so I can't do too much for him. If you could add him to the list of soldiers receiving salamis, it would be so deeply appreciated.

Thanks so much—a proud Mom,
Linda (last name and location withheld by request)"

Ben is the first soldier to receive a box of salami this holiday season through Mister Brisket’s Salamis to the Troops campaign. Hank Kornblut, owner of Mister Brisket on Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, started the program in 2009 when a special request from a customer got him thinking.

Customer Max Chandler, a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, walked in to Mister Brisket and asked Kornblut if he could ship some beef to his son, Cormac, who was serving in Afghanistan. At first, Kornblut told him it wasn’t possible. “Because beef is perishable, it would have to be kept frozen; I just didn’t see how we could do it,” he recalled. “Then, I thought about it again. Salami is cured, already cooked, and will keep for a long time.”

Kornblut researched proper packaging and shipping and then decided to ask his other customers if they would like to participate. “My goal the first year was to ship about 100 salamis,” said Kornblut. “By mid-December, we had shipped more than 400.” In the last three years, Mister Brisket has shipped more than 1,000 salamis to members of the United States armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Customers purchase the salamis, which are sent either to service members specified by those customers or to those on a list compiled by Mister Brisket, suggested by members of the community. “Anyone who knows someone in the armed services can add that person’s name to our list,” said Kornblut. “It’s been a popular way for our customers to show their admiration and support for the troops, even if they don’t know anyone currently serving personally.”

Each salami is $20. Kornblut packages Vienna all-beef salamis with a card and personal message, if the donor desires, along with a bottle of Cleveland Stadium Mustard. “It’s important for us to send the best quality,” said Kornblut. “That is what Mister Brisket is known for, and our troops deserve nothing less.”

Mister Brisket has received several thank-you letters from soldiers in the field, many of which are posted at  www.misterbrisket.com/other-servicessend-salamis-to-the-troops/salamis-to-the-troops/. Kornblut also created a video to explain the program to potential donors. In the video, Kornblut describes the response from a first-grade class at Noble Elementary School in Cleveland Heights. One year, each student in Cathy Shramo’s class created a handmade card, which was included in the package with the salamis.

“We became involved with the project through one of my parents at Noble, Jane Williams,” said Shramo, who now teaches first grade at Roxboro Elementary School. “We wrote letters to the troops thanking them for their efforts, and the parents donated money to buy the salamis to go with the cards. I talked with my students about why we were sending the cards, and why people were overseas during the holidays. It was fun, and we heard back from several of the soldiers.”

Mister Brisket will continue to ship salamis into February and is seeking the names of recipients for this year’s program. To submit a name or donate a salami, visit www.misterbrisket.com or call 216-932-8620.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 6, Issue 1, Posted 11:01 AM, 12.04.2012