Occasionally, I might make a departure from our hometown and write about a random, but somehow related subject. In this post, I’m talking a HUGE sidetrip to Richmond, located in British Columbia, Canada. Richmond is approximately 2700 miles from Duquesne, but in some strange way, connected to our city.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Jim Hartman (Mifflin Township Historical Society) that opened my eyes to the world of hunky technology. Jim had sent me a link to a website that featured all types of kitchen gadgets. In particular, this site offered a hunky version of technology in the form of a PEROGIE MAKER! Granted, it wasn’t the cutting edge technology of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but nonetheless, it was an invention that specifically addressed a need that helped bubbas and hunkys worldwide.
Although I was fascinated about the actual device, what caught my eye when I visted the site was the item’s creator, Hunky Bill! I decided to investigate a bit more about this fellow Hunky and eventually landed on his website HUNKYBILL.BIZ. On his site is the following brief bio:
- Born in the “true” North end of Winnipeg on Euclid Avenue in Point Douglas on May 15th 1931, Hunky Bill attended Norquay, Aberdeen and St. John’s Schools. He worked at the C.P. Telegraphs till 1956 before migrating to Chicago, where he lived for two years.
- Working as a freelance sports reporter, Bill met and interviewed many sports celebrities including Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Bobby Hull, Yogi Berra and the legendary Ted Williams. Casey Stengel called him the Crazy Canuck after watching him consume his favorite beverage – beer.
- He met his wife to be Kay Eyre in 1958 and they married in Winnipeg where Bill joined radio station CKY. Bill and Kay stayed in Winnipeg until l966, taking their two sons Billy and Clay to Vancouver to join the CJOR team.
- In 1967 the radio station CFUN made him General Sales Manager and he stayed there until 1971. While at CFUN he was also importing Ukrainian food from Winnipeg. While enjoying himself one day at the Ritz Hotel, a friend bet him ten dollars that he couldn’t get a booth at the Pacific National Exhibition (Vancouver’s big annual fair.). Bill went down to the PNE and pleaded and argued for an hour and finally he was given a booth. He won his ten-dollar bet and the rest is history. Another important happening was a third son Mark being born in May of 1967.
- Hunky Bill’s Perogie Maker was a smash success. It allows the user to cut, seal and form perogies in one easy step. The B-I-G and Little Perogie Makers are available around the world. So buy a Perogie Maker and hold a perogie party!
Hunky Bill is actually a gentleman by the name of Bill Konyk. Just by looking at him, you have to know that Bill is a character! I would love to just sit down and speak to him about all of his adventures while a sports reporter, and also share all of his “hunky” stories. I came across a You Tube video of a commercial that Hunky Bill did for his product. Just click below to watch, and make sure your sound is turned up on you computer:
The following is an article from the Vancouver Sun that provides a bit more insight into our fellow hunky, Bill. Enjoy……
The Perogy Dynasty of Hunky Bill
By Vancouver Sun September 2, 2011
- There are several things you should know about Bill Konyk. The first is that he is 80, fit as the proverbial fiddle and credits his health and his rather cheeky attitude to perogies. Which he eats every day.
- The second is that his wife Kay, who is from Chicago and is 74 and who gave him three spitting image sons – Billy, 51, Clayton, 50, and Mark, 44 – had no clue what a perogy was when, in 1958, she wed the man who would turn out to be B.C.’s perogy king.
- The third is that when Konyk, while working in Vancouver radio nearly half a century ago, convinced the skeptical PNE brass to let him open a perogy kiosk in the Food Building in 1967, that first combo dinner sold for 95 cents. This week, at his booth on the PNE midway, the same plate of food costs $12.
- Oh, and he’s called Hunky. Hunky Bill.
- The Konyks – wife, sons and six grandchildren – all but bleed perogies, every last one of them having been inculcated in all manner of Ukrainian fare and, for as long as they could stand on their feet for 12 hours a day, having worked the fryers and fountains and counter under Hunky Bill’s tent during the annual fair.
- And if you ask him to tell the story of his perogy legacy, and you will because you just know it’s going to be interesting, be prepared to have your ear bent.
- The short version is that like many immigrant Ukrainians, Konyk’s parents settled in Winnipeg, where Bill was born and raised, before heading as a young adult to Chicago for a job as a radio sports reporter. He met Kay, they returned to Winnipeg and married and, two sons in tow, moved to Vancouver in 1966 when Bill landed a job at CJOR.
- In the late 1960s, after hosting a few house parties for ex-Winnipeggers, he realized there was a market for Ukrainian food and began importing perogies and sauerkraut and sausages and smoked goldeneye from Manitoba and selling them to local Ukrainians and other adventurous eaters, Ukrainian food in 1970 being a somewhat exotic cuisine in the then-sleepy culinary town that was Vancouver.
- “Next thing I know, I’m making some serious coin,” he says.
- One day, sometime after Kay had perfected the art of perogy making, Konyk was enjoying a drink in the Ritz Hotel on Georgia when a friend bet him $10 that he couldn’t get the PNE to let him sell his perogies to fairgoers.
- He took that bet, but the PNE put up a fight and told him there was a waiting list for spots. Konyk was persistent, and the fair finally relented when he said: “Do you know what a perogy is? This is going to be the hottest food in town.”
- He was in, it was and this year is Hunky Bill’s 45th at the fair.
- To say that perogies are a Konyk family affair is to fail to grasp just what that means.
- In 1980, for instance, Kay introduced her son Clay to his soon-to-be wife Elly, who was working at the Hunky Bill’s booth while he was stationed at the family’s other fairground venture, Barnacle Bill’s, which sold fish and chips (it’s now incorporated into the Hunky Bill’s booth). Their two adult daughters, Rachel and Katy, are now regulars in the perogy tent.
- Clayton says dad has always been a tough taskmaster and “started breaking us in when we were 8 or 9.” He remembers working full-time at the fair when he was 13.
- In the off-season, Clayton works at his business, Cottage Creek Homes, along with Mark, who was born the year Hunky Bill’s opened at the fair. Bill Jr. is a horse trainer and remembers being a kid frying sausage in the back of the booth while his dad “yelled and screamed.” Today, his son Bill (technically Bill Jr. Jr.) is in the booth working alongside his cousins, including Mark’s sons John, Ryan and Adam. The grandchildren are pondering various careers, from welding to teaching math, but expect they’ll always be on perogy duty for, like, ever.
- So, perogies as a family legacy. Who knew?
- Well, Bill Konyk did. And he’s not shy about saying so. In fact, he is fond of such bon mots as: “If the Colonel knew about chicken what Hunky Bill knows about perogies, he’d be a general today.”
- And then there’s the Hunky Bill mantra, which everyone in the family can recite in their sleep: “A perogy is a crescent-shaped type of dumpling filled with a seasoned blend of potatoes and cheese topped with a Ukrainian ice cream called sour cream.
- “Working hard, says Konyk, is a lesson he learned early on from his father, as was the expectation that your kids, and their kids, would work hard, too.
- Oh, and dad told him that whenever he had a little extra money, he should buy real estate. He took all that advice, and once even bought a pub, The Dover Arms, that he has since sold.
- After this year’s fair, Bill Sr. will be sitting down with the family to talk about the Konyk legacy and how he and Kay might start enjoying some of the perks of their labour.
- But he’s not done yet. He’s still selling his invention, The Perogie Maker, is thinking of getting into the perogy delivery business and, later this month, will feed perogies to 600 at a Salvation Army dinner.
- So, just how good have perogies been to the Konyks?
- In 1967, Hunky Bill did $5,800 worth of business during the fair. Last year, he handed $80,000 in “rent” over to the PNE, which represents an undisclosed contractual percentage that food vendors pay the fair based on sales.
- And all you can think is, holy perogies, that’s a lot of email@example.com
© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.
I hope you enjoyed this little diversion I’ve offered. After reading all about Bill, I will be ordering a perogie maker very soon. I can’t wait and neither can my family! The link again to check out more about the item is http://hunkybill.biz/shop/catalog/browse?shop_param=.
Sure, Jim. Hunkys in Canada? When Kennywood decides to sell beer! Oh, by the way, Kennywood will be selling beer this year. And next you’ll be telling us there are hunkys in Hawaii. Credibility, Jim!! Credibility!!
Oh ye of little faith. Remember the story of St. Thomas! LOL
Sure, I’ll never forget it. But what happens in St. Thomas stays in St. Thomas. 🙂
I love pierogies and that is all I eat when walking around International Village each year.
I did some work in Canada in the 80’s and was delighted to find pierogies in several towns
in SK, AB and BC.
Richmond is a lovely town. We enjoyed working there, with blackberries bigger than your thumb.
That all looks so great and the guy really sounds like a “good kind of a boy”. I too have used a 26 tringular shaped piroghi maker. I got mine years and years ago from Leemar Enterprises out of New Jersey. They also sold me my Anniversary Slovak-Anerican cook book. Mine is the green one, once again over 40 years ago. I also get my Christmas (Oplatky) wafers from them. Anything to make the making of piroghi easier. I usually make mine every second year. Freeze them and they are just fantastic. When I freeze them I set them on a cookie sheet single layer until they are frozen then I put them in a plastic freezer bag . When I DO make them it is well over a couple hundred, depending on how easy the dough is to work with.
Once again I have to tell you how very much I enjoy all the things you bring up to talk about. Everything and I do mean everything is just so interesing. Thank you very very much, Claudia