RIP Gourmet Magazine (1941-2009)

by Cate on October 5, 2009

Peanut Butter Bars

It was a sad day in both the publishing and culinary worlds as a shudder went through the respective communities.  Conde Nast announced that after 68 years of publication, next month’s issue of Gourmet magazine would be the last.  As if that wasn’t enough, the hits just kept on coming.  The entire staff of 180 was let go, right up to editor Ruth Reichl.  Not only that, they had to be cleared out by the end of the week.  Staff members that have been there for 30+ years now have just days to empty their offices.  A sad day indeed.  The reason for the fold?  It just wasn’t profitable anymore and the advertisers weren’t there. The decision came after a three-month independent study, and unfortunately, Gourmet magazine wasn’t the only casualty, as Cookie Magazine, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride all got the ax as well.  I’m disappointed about Cookie leaving too … it’s a wonderful parenting magazine that remembers all the other sides of you that exist, along with the parenting side.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Gourmet magazine over the years.  Their covers, particularly two years ago, were dark and dour, quite the opposite of what I want to inspire me to rush into the kitchen and start banging pots and pans around.  They didn’t make my mouth water.  The recipes aren’t nearly as accessible as the ones in their counterparts like Bon Appetit and Everyday Food.  Not that that’s bad, after all, it just had a decidedly more cultural slant.  I read and subscribed to it for different reasons … much like Saveur magazine, their writers all exceled at transporting you to a faraway place, weaving food tales accompanied by moving pictures.  It was iconic like no other.

If advertising, or more importantly the lack of it, managed to take down the iconic Gourmet magazine, I have to wonder what that means for a magazine like Taste of Home, a magazine that has no advertising.  I guess if you don’t rely on it to meet your payroll and make a profit, then all is good.  At this rate, as some of my favorite magazines are quickly disappearing all too fast, I certainly hope so.  Taste of Home is a completely different animal … a magazine filled to the brim with comfort food; recipes that use ingredients that you know and know well, and ingredients that you likely have on hand to begin with.  Recipes that your mom and grandma likely made.  I took a few years off from Taste of Home magazine, but warmed up to it again earlier this year, perhaps in my own search for more comfort from the kitchen, who knows?

Is there a good way to segue into a recipe for Peanut Butter Bars?  Probably not, so I won’t try.  Suffice it to say that the Gourmet magazine news is terribly sad and I hope that’s the last magazine demise we have to hear about for awhile.  So many of my favorites have closed up shop this year.  No matter how much access we have to things online, I still have some 50+ magazine subscriptions and read books voraciously.  Nothing replaces the written word.  And nothing will replace Gourmet magazine.

Now onto peanut butter …

I have a few friends who are crazy for all things peanut butter, so when I saw this recipe for Peanut Butter Bars from Taste of Home, I knew I could easily find a home for some of the bars. You definitely have to like peanut butter to like this recipe.  And I mean really like peanut butter.  It’s in the base. It’s in the glaze on top. You’re not getting away from it here.  Go on and bake up a batch for your own favorite peanut butter lover.

Taste of Home Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup confectioners sugar (I used about 1/4 cup more to get the consistency I wanted)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by 9-inch baking dish and set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars and peanut butter. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour oats, baking soda and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes. Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over bars.

Makes 3-4 dozen.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Caron October 5, 2009 at 11:41 pm

I love the accessibility of BA and Everyday Food too. The recipes are so doable. But Gourmet is the mecca — it’s transporting and amazing and in a whole different class. I am so sad to see it go.


Rosa October 6, 2009 at 6:14 am

I am very sad and sour! It is so unfair to us and the staff!

RIP Gourmet……………




Joanne October 6, 2009 at 6:16 am

I read about this on another blog earlier today and was saddened even though I have never been a reader of Gourmet. More because i knew what it represented for the food world. I too hope that other magazines do not meet the same fate, for there are others that I read religiously.

On a much happier note, these PB bars look amazing. I think I will need to make them to cheer myself up.


Starnesfam October 6, 2009 at 9:41 am

I heard about this and immediately thought of my foodie friends. So sorry!


Cynthia October 6, 2009 at 9:51 am

My heart breaks for Gourmet :(


mandy October 6, 2009 at 10:31 am

I’ve gotten Taste of Home for a few years now and only read Gourmet every once in a great while. I’m not surprised though. Online and social media is where its at these days. Honestly, I dont read many magazines or newspapers in print these days. Even tv is slow to get news out. Websites, twitter, blogs are replacing print media. Even though I have the taste of home magazine, I usually turn to the internet to find a recipe.


jan October 6, 2009 at 11:10 am

Gourmet was the first food mag I read (early 70s). It was good for inspiration. BA is more like Gourmet-lite, but kept trying to raise the bar. I wonder what’s going to happen with them?
(to me, Gourmet was like the Larousse Gastronomique of mags and Saveur has kind of moved into it’s niche)


Heather October 6, 2009 at 1:24 pm

how sad about gourmet. i’ve got to admit, i was always more of a bon appetit person myself. sometimes i felt that gourmet was a little too “snooty”. but snooty or not, it will definitely be missed in the culinary community.


Patsy October 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

It is a sad day when an iconic magazine folds due to lack of advertising. I also hope that we don’t see any others disappear anytime soon.

Those peanut butter bars look incredible!


leslie October 6, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Yep..I saw that on Perez Hilton yesterday :(


Christiane October 6, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Although I tend towards Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food and Wine, Gourmet was such a pillar of the food magazine community.
It shall be desperately missed.


Darina October 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Interesting thoughts on the closing of Gourmet. I didn’t often cook from Gourmet, but I always thought it had a lot to offer, that it went where other magazines feared to tread. It shall be missed.


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