Holiday Tastes

I find it funny that these three covers are so similar.

No, there’s no place like the kitchen for the holiday! We figure you’re working hard on menus and other problems of entertaining, so this post is about food! And magazines that write about food. And decorating, and COOKIES. And other fun, leisure time stuff.

You should know that most of these titles are in ProQuest’s Women’s Magazine Archive, which is available to all FIT students, faculty, and staff.

bhagnovcover-20161212Better Homes & Gardens: 12x/year, Des Moines, Iowa, begun in 1922. In ProQuest Women’s Mag Archive.

This oldie-but-goodie is published by Meredith Women’s Corporation, named for founder Edwin Meredith. He began the magazine in 1922, after he stepped down as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

It is one of the “Seven Sisters”, a group of popular American women’s magazines aimed primarily at homemakers. The fourth-best-selling magazine in the U.S. market, it addresses cooking, gardening, crafts, healthy living, decorating, and entertaining.



Better Home & Gardens Holiday Food Spread



What’s interesting is that BH&G has really stepped up their game in the last few years. They have taken to heart the competition of bloggers and the newer titles in the genre.

I love this spot, showing food that can be made on the spot (almost) if friends and family drop by. It’s healthy, current food, actual-easy instead of TV-easy to make, good looking, and addresses a real-person issue.



mashed potatoes recipie



The ads may have remained a combination of pharmaceuticals and food producers, but the editorial content is attractively photographed, creative, and current. Not to mention that BH&G has always been the title aimed at the affordable good life, and that sense of style-with-thrift continues.

It’s useful for our students because older issues often have floor plans, which are a requirement for parts of the America at Home project through the Home Products program.

Better Home and Gardens




frenchelle-dec-cvrr-20161212Elle France, 52x/year, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, begun 1945.

Elle France is another oldie-but-goodie title. It’s aimed at French women, who, we have been told, retain a lot more glamour during their family-caregiving years. That may be, but this is still primarily a fashion magazine. Elle was style-setting from it’s birth through the 1960s, but by the 1980s its sales began to wane. Hachette, their parent company,  was purchased in 1981.





ELLE Magazine spread girl sleeping studying


The new owners expanded the brand,  publishing foreign editions. American Elle was born in 1985, along with the United Kingdom edition. Although Elle Japan began in 1969, Elle Hong Kong wasn’t launched until 1987, along with Elle Italy.  Itss name recognition and 43 international editions give it the largest circulation of any fashion magazine worldwide.

I’ve written a fair amount (here and here)about Elle and their publisher, Publicitas. They are kind enough to give us many of their discarded copies, allowing us Elle editions that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible here in NY.



French ELLE Magazine Spread



Elle‘s focus on fashion and culture makes it surprising to me that it continues to include a regular recipe page. In 1980s had both recipe at end of each as well as a knitting pattern at the end, but times have changed. The French edition continues to come out weekly, giving it the opportunity to cover more of the every day life of a fashionable woman.






Good HousekeepingGood Housekeeping, 12x/yr, Harlan, IA, begun in 1885 (in Holyoke, MA). Indexed Ebsco. In ProQuest Women’s Mag Archive.

Good Housekeeping is the next bestselling women’s magazine in the U.S., after BH&G. It  was considered the upscale “Seven Sister” by the mid-20th century.  The magazine has a long history of progressive advocacy, particularly for pure foods and anti-tobacco. The publication was active in promoting the passage of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938.

In 1900 the publisher established the “Experiment Station”, which tested both cooking related tools and recipes, but also of household products and appliances. In 1909 the institute established the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.


Good Housekeeping coffee mixers holiday



Much of the consumer oriented work behind the magazine has come from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, founded in 1910, which grew out of the Experiment Station. The first commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Harvey W. Wiley, became head of the GHRI upon stepping down from the FDA in 1912.  The Institute maintains a Model Kitchen, the Testing Station for Household Products, and the Domestic Science Lab.



good housekeeping holidy recipie



Although the magazine focused heavily on consumer products and cooking, historically the title also featured literary articles. Writers such as Somerset Maugham, Edna St. Vincent Millay, A.J. Cronin and Virginia Woolf, to name just a few, were published there.

Since 2012 the GHRI set up a corresponding channel on the Cooking Channel.


Good Housekeeping




living-et-cvr-20161212Living etc., 12x/year, 1998, London. Online added 2005.

This British magazine is listed on our Interior Design & Shelter mags list, but it has lots of information about entertaining, as do many of the home-focused titles. Its intent was/is to capture the market for an increasingly minimalist lifestyle currently seen in Western Europe and the U.S.



festive truffles article



“UK’s biggest selling modern homes magazine, designed to engage, captivate, and inspire an upmarket, affluent and design-savvy reader.” Published by Time Inc. UK, which publishes a few of our favorite titles, like Wallpaper* and InStyle. The publication has always had a food editor, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver one of the first.



cool staircase with feathers and stars and balls





As with many of our newer publications, this title blurs the line between advertisement, curatorial/editorial, and design. Living Inc. collaborates on a line of furniture and home accessories. They also have published travel videos and maintain an active website where consumers can track writers as they scout for design inspirations.



holiday wreath design



We really love this magazine because the British point of view has a colorfulness and humor to it that the American interiors titles lack. We love its combination of attractive, clean aesthetic, but with the affordability of their ideas. In particular, their holiday decorations this season were super cool!


Living etc




livingmartha-cvrr-20161212Martha Stewart Living, 10x/yr, New York, NY. Begun in 1990. In Ebsco.

This title is the monthly manifestation of Stewart’s vision of an attractive, luxurious, but wholesome life. I believe that her “worldcraft” is one of the primary creative forces behind  American culture of the last 30 years. Her vision continues to shape the priorities of home decorating: both the physical aesthetic and the underlying intellectual and spiritual approaches. This vision has commercialized the recent DIY revival as well as the slow-food and the celebrity-chef movements, making them accessible to all American consumers, and fueling the market that created the HGTV generation.



Martha Stewart recipie


Martha Stewart began her empire with a successful catering business. Her husband’s publishing contacts then led to her writing a series of cookbooks. Over time, her vision of an attractive country-influenced life has allowed her to create a media and marketing empire, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, incorporated in 1997.

This entity encompasses television (from Stewart’s regular spots on NBC and CBS morning shows, her own “Apprentice”-style show, various cooking shows, & “Martha And Snoop’s Potluck Dinner”), publishing (multiple magazines and books on gardening, cooking, entertaining, wedding planning, and so on), licensing agreements (“Everyday” products with K-Mart, FLOR floor line, Gallo Winery, and Costco, to name just a few), and the occasional TV acting spot.

Martha Stewart Biography

Magazine spread Martha Stewart



We subscribed to this sometime in the 2000s, but have been able to backfill most of the title subsequently from gifts.

This mag is as important for the interiors and entertaining ideas as the food, but it always includes many recipes and how-tos.  Despite its influence it does not, regularly make a profit. It’s real purpose is to the print expression of the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Empire. In this expression, it is valuable as a case study in marketing savvy.



veg-times-holiday-cvrVegetarian Times, 9x/yr, Boulder, CO. Begun in 1974. In Ebsco.

This title began as a pamphlet handed out by the founder, Paul Obis. By the mid-1970s, it had grown into an actual magazine. The founder sold it in the late 1970s, but was able to purchase the magazine back in 1985, with financial backing from his friend, Fred Rogers. Yes, that Fred Rogers. By 1990 the title had circulation of 250,000, and the two sold it to Cowles Media, of Minnesota. The magazine changed hands several times in the 2000s. After a short hiatus, Veg Times was given a facelift and refocus in 2004, towards a more general healthy lifestyle.



Magazine recipie vegetarian times


Vegetarianism has a long history in the U.S. Benjamin Franklin lived that way for a time, as did many of the 19th-century abolitionists such as Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa), Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Horace Greeley, and John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the cereal company.

The movement has gained strength with the rise of American conservationism, the local food movement, and the publication of many ground breaking cookbooks, such as Frances Moore Lappe’s “Diet for a Small Planet” (1971), Anna Thomas’ “The Vegetarian Epicure” (1972), and the “Moosewood Cookbook” (1974).


vegetarian times recipie



Vegetarian Times tries to maintain the spirits of both conservationism and epicureanism. Using lush photography and regular features such as eco-friendly home goods, restaurant reviews, gluten-free  fast recipes, VT offers alternatives to the more traditional foodie titles we offer. We subscribed in 1991, and the title remains popular with library staff and for the food-styling assignment.




womd-gingerbr-20161212Women’s Day, 10x/year, New York, NY. Begun in 1931. In ProQuest Women’s Mag Archive.

This is the last of the “Seven Sisters” publications I’m going to write about today. It is currently also published by Heart here in NYC, but it began it’s life as a free in-store menu-recipe planner at the A&P grocery stores in 1931.

Supermarkets have not always been with us. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, shortened to A&P, was one of the earliest developers of the type, and their first modern supermarket was in Braddock, Pennsylvania, 1936. As suburbs developed, pulling families away from town centers, the convenience of a single store with a variety of  necessities in central space filled a needed retail function.


Womans Day holiday spread


Early versions of Women’s Day included advice on childcare, needlework, cooking, health, and housekeeping and cost just a nickel ($.05)

The magazine prospered as the in-house A&P publication, with circulation of 3 million by 1944. In 1958, the store chain sold the magazine to Fawcett Publications. Under their management, the title grew to circulation of 6.5 million by 1965.



Woman's day holiday recipie



The publication claimed to be a “trusted advisor in the day in day out work that’s a housewife’s chosen profession. That’s our profession. And we’re proud of it.” The quote, from ad agency in-house publicity for the title, shows clearly the contemporary (mid-1960s) balancing act between feminism and the ideal family life that much of middle-America continues to wrestle to the present day.






The magazine has withstood the tests of feminism; competition from older sources (like BH&G, and GH); newer sources (like vegetarianism, Alice Waters, Martha Stewart, HGTV, food blogging, and titles like Oh, Comely); and changing supermarket styles (from A&P to Wegman’s and Whole Foods) to maintain a popular place in American social culture. The company has changed hands a few times, and retains many of it’s old advertisers, like General Foods, drugstores and pharaceutical companies, and limited-edition tchotcka producers. However, Women’s Day‘s editorial design has kept up. Enough to look fresh, but not too much to appeal to its audience, which is focused on keeping things running smoothly.

Woman’s Day


A lot of the new, Extreme Curating! titles include food topics in their mission statements. Kinfolk describes itself as “discovering new things to cook, make, and do”. Oh Comely has a regular recipes feature, and Cherry Bombe is completely about food, food writing, food workers, and food ideas. You can read about them in this past post below. In the meantime, bon appetit and Happy Holidays!

Fashionable Minimalism

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  5. Jhon Smith says:

    Great Article. Thanks for sharing all these pieces of information and ideas with us. Eagerly wetting to try all this for the upcoming holidays.

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