Pornography has found its footing among the mainstream middle class; why shouldn't food porn do the same?
Food porn, the affectionate nickname for luscious photography of meals and recipes, usually thrives on the pages of epicurean titles like Bon Appetit and Gourmet. But it has emerged now on the digest-size magazine racks near supermarket checkouts in the pages of Everyday Food from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. It's a small, smart guide to cooking-for people who actually cook almost every day.
Other magazines, like the recently green-lighted Chow, continue to join the pursuit of foodies, but none has combined the stylish touch of Martha Stewart's empire and the bright idea to go digest-size to win space at the checkout.
This recipe for success began with Martha Stewart, says Lauren Podlach Stanich, exec VP-president of publishing at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. "She really felt there was a hole in the food category for quick and easy cooking. It wasn't something we cover in Martha Stewart Living."
"She was very intrigued by trying to start a magazine in which all the ingredients can be bought at the supermarket," Ms. Stanich says.
Test issues began in January 2003 and regular publishing started late that year. Everyday Food burst out of launch mode in 2005 as it reached hundreds of thousands of mailboxes. Where Everyday Food has struggled this year, ironically, is at the supermarket pockets from which it launched. Single-copy sales for the first half fell 17.5% from the same period in 2004. The company attributes the drop to its growing subscriber file and continued industrywide challenges at the newsstand.
Grocery-store staples, like Frito-Lay's Lay's Light potato chips and Unilever Bestfoods's Wish-Bone salad dressing, are regulars in the ad pages of Everyday Food, but marketers of distinctly inedible products, including vehicles, also believe the magazine has value. Recent issues have included ads for Ford Focus, Kia Sportage and GMC Envoy Denali. (Everyday Food doesn't include the travel coverage that other cooking titles use to marshal additional nonendemic ads.)
Its appeal, like most successful projects, is straightforward: provide better-than-average recipes made with easily available foods (usually seven ingredients or less). "It's a sign of the times," says George Janson, managing director and director-print at Mediaedge:cia, New York. "A certain percentage of the population are single moms or working people and don't have time to do a lot of cooking or to spend with the epicurean books."
The utility of it all is leavened by the flair of the layout and photography, which echo other Martha Stewart titles with more upscale demographics. "There's a certain fondness for the magazine because it's a sweet little magazine," says Sandra Rose Gluck, who holds the title of food editor at Everyday Food. "It really talks to the reader and helps the reader in the Martha Stewart tradition."
The magazine, published 10 times a year, functions best in contrast with the more aspirational cooking magazines. Those titles maintain great success-Conde Nast Publications' Bon Appetit claims paid circulation above 1.3 million, while Conde Nast sibling Gourmet boasts 977,629. But they can intimidate and fall short when someone needs to figure out what to make for dinner quickly.
It helps the Everyday Food effort that grocery stores have diversified the kinds of food they stock. "You couldn't have done a magazine like this 10 years ago when there wasn't such a diversity of ingredients in the supermarkets," Ms. Stanich says.
Advertisers frequently ask, of course, to pay their way into the recipes, but the magazine doesn't use brand names in its editorial pages.
"We don't do that," says Publisher Anne Balaban. "What we do is work with them to find out what positions they want, so the editorial position they want works best with their product."
Recipe for success
Everyday Food ran 282 ad pages as of September, up 30.1% from '04, according to PIB. Circulation climbed 36.6% in the first half to 803,071, with subscriptions up 59.3% to 659,928, though newsstand sales fell 17.5% to 143,143, according to ABC