With the U.S. holiday Thanksgiving next week, it seems like time to talk about recipes. We subscribe to many homey foodie magazines in the FIT Library, and this month they all have yummy looking things on their covers. What’s interesting is that only 1 of the usual go-to recipe magazines has Thanksgiving Dinner on the the cover. That’s Martha Stewart Living, above. The other two big “women’s” titles, Woman’s Day and Better Homes & Gardens, feature desserts that may be autumnal, but they are hardly holiday-specific. Has food gone out of style in the last year? Or just the Thanksgiving holiday?
Last year I featured Better Homes & Gardens the week before Thanksgiving, so this year I’m featuring its rival, Woman’s Day. You can read more about all the titles the FIT Library carries that feature recipes at the link I posted below.
Women’s Day, published 10x/year, New York, NY. In ProQuest Women’s Mag Archive.
Woman’s Day is one of the last remaining of the “Seven Sisters” publications. It is currently also by Hearst 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.
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.
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.
For more history of magazines that specialize in recipes: