In my adult life I have been a consistent subscriber to exactly one magazine. In my early twenties, I lived vicariously through the teetering piles of dog-eared New Yorkers in my friends’ apartments, and whenever someone mailed me a copy of Poetry or The New York Times Magazine flagging an article I might like, it felt like my birthday every time. But those are aspirational periodicals; they’re serious presentations of serious and thought-provoking information, and they can’t really be consumed like “magazines” in the sense of anything you’ll find in the checkout line at a grocery store. No, there’s only one that I consume cover-to-cover the day it arrives in my mailbox like the candy-colored treat that it is. And that’s Food Network Magazine.
You simply won’t find a more buoyant publication than this one. It’s genuinely excited to tell you that it’s “Time for Barbecue!” or “Time for Soup!”—indeed, the exclamation point is a mainstay of each month’s cover, and even the font is curlicue and friendly, as if to chirp, “Whaddaya say, pal? Let’s crack open a can of crescent roll dough and see where our imaginations take us this afternoon!” Bold, primary colors and easily navigable photo indexes make Food Network Magazine the print equivalent of its TV recipes for semi-homemade ice cream cakes and five-minute cowboy caviar: easy, carefree, and, once you surrender yourself to its charms, delightful.
The Halloween issue is when this magazine shines brightest. Somehow, every year, Food Network comes up with at least 25 new iterations of creepy-crawly cookies and “bloodstained” popcorn balls. Sure, much of it is filler—“carve Jack o’ Lantern faces into the cheese on your burgers!”—but you don’t have to be angling for a James Beard Award in order to inject some creative thoughtstarters into a home cook’s day. It’s not going to rock your world, but maybe the idea of putting chocolate-dipped Gummi Worms on top of a chocolate cupcake isn’t something that’s occurred to you before, and maybe it makes a family baking project 10% more enjoyable. Plus in every issue you get to see celebrity chefs’ kitchens and critique them like you’re some kind of professional designer. That’s always fun. And slightly cheaper than picking apart the spreads in an issue of Architectural Digest.
This has been a Food Network Magazine (and more specifically a Food Network Magazine Halloween issue) appreciation post. Thank you for your time.