Thursday, July 24, 2008

TASTE OF HOME commentary

Okay, if you read this blog for great intellectual and theological insights (insert chuckle), you might want to skip this post. It's only for those of us who like to cook.

I do not like TASTE OF HOME magazine anymore. I used to love it--The six days of the year when it arrived in my mailbox were red-letter days. I would savor the reading of it, stretching it out to make it last a couple of nights, or maybe indulging myself, letting the grading assignments for school wait, reading the entire thing cover to cover in one night. I loved it so much that I collected back issues on eBay, and have an entire set dating from 1993 onward in a back corner of my closet.

It's not that they've added advertising. The few ads spaced out amidst its content are not that offensive or obnoxious, and I understand that in today's business climate it was probably a necessity. It's not that the texture of the paper is different.

It's just that they've taken what used to be a truly grass-roots magazine and turned it into a slick magazine that is attempting to look like a grass-roots magazine.

If you'll read the editorial box near the front you'll see that it's no longer published by Reiman Publications; it's now published by Reader's Digest publications. Talk about a big switch from Greendale, Wisconsin, to a big-city approach! The list of executives is about three times as long as it used to be. It appears that though the content probably still originates out of Wisconsin, it's zipped to New York to be "polished up."

Now, there are a few folksy things about the early TASTE OF HOME editions that I don't miss. (The feature "Town Apetit" comes to mind.) But I liked having pictures of the cooks who submitted recipes included. I liked the feature where people would write in asking for help finding old obscure recipes that their grandmothers used to make. I liked the inclusion of original pictures taken by average people who submitted party themes, along with the staged pictures taken when those themes were featured in the magazine. I liked that the photographs of food, though very well done, still looked like photos taken for an average person's table, rather than the new, slightly blurred style that looks so, well, Madison Avenue-ish. (As do the new styles and sizes of fonts for the titles, cooks' names and locations, and actual recipes.)
Previously, the "feel" of the magazine was that it was about cooking but also about cooks. Those stories about ladies (and men) from all over the country and Canada, and their cooking experiences, made me feel like I got to know these people. (That was why QUICK COOKING was never quite as appealing to me as TASTE OF HOME--it was mainly recipes and did not appeal to that enjoyment of stories of people.) Now, the attitude of the editors appears to be to include personal information and stories somewhat, but no longer included in the primary focus and intent of the magazine. And that is a serious omission in retaining the "flavor" of TASTE OF HOME.
I know the older version won't come back. It's gone, a victim of its own success. But I feel like I've lost an old friend, and it seems like just another example of how homey things are being dismantled bit by bit in the name of progress and sophistication in today's society. And I really, really miss the former incarnation of what was once my favorite magazine.


Bet said...

I haven't seen Taste of Home recently--I usually catch up with issues when I visit my mom or my sister. But I'm sad too! I know what you mean about how new publishers can change the character of a publication.

I also don't like the new format of Southern Living since they changed to the different binding and paper. I think there have been some editorial changes there too.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I, too, no longer like it as well, but still receive it! Guess I just like to cook too much--or rather, "eat" too much to give it up. I'm thinking that I should toss my large basement collection from past years so my poor son doesn't have to do so in years to come! But, I still go down there and dig until I find a certain recipe! It is too bad that it has taken on a different look and feel.

Okay, I did it! I'm leaving my comment here!

Ann said...

Good for you, Beth! I knew you had it in you!

BTW, the "Barbara" who comments on here from time to time used to live down the hall from us. . .

Barbara H. said...

I've been sadly neglecting my Taste of Homes recently, so I just picked up the latest one. I see what you mean. I was very surprised to learn that they were bought out by Reader's Digest. I don't mind the ads, either, but I preferred the homey feel to the slick, professional style.

I'll probably still subscribe as long as it stays useful and publishes recipes by real cooks from their own kitchens rather than creating recipes in test kitchens.

baSfsoGp said...

I don't like Reader's Digest anymore and I used to look forward to getting it in years past. It's not like it used to be.

Ann said...

You're right--READER'S DIGEST has changed also. There are fewer articles, and those that remain are shorter and require little thought to read.

Susan said...

I haven't seen a recent issue of Taste of Home . . . because I can't find one! I live in Vancouver, Canada, and up here the only TOH publications I can find are the special editions, like slow-cooker recipes or desserts.

I absolutely loved the old TOH. I have quite a few back issues, and I use them every week. I've found it a bit easier now to go to their website to find recipes, but I love the old magazines for their kitchen makeovers, party themes, and frugal menu features. I had noticed in the past few years, when I did manage to get hold of a TOH, that it was looking different and didn't have the same "feel" to it. I'm sorry the old style is gone. Sigh.