TOH was one of those fun little magazines that was dreamed up by two grandmas sitting in front of their mobile home looking for a way to preserve what can only be considered the origins of Paula Deen style cookin'. It was a place where little old ladies could talk about their best Easter dinner (Ham, ham and ham - who doesn't love ham), where "Men Who Run the Range" was a regular submission ("Imagine, Flo, men that actually cook... what's this worl' comin' tuh?"), and the editor gave advice to those cooks who wrote in with questions (Q: When I shell my hard boiled eggs the shells don't come off, what can I do? A: Buy your eggs more often than once a year.)
With the revamping and updating so much of the charm and "quaint" appeal of the magazine has been lost. What this really means is that they have lost that thing which people (like me) enjoy poking fun at, but it sold subscriptions.
Gone is the section: "Does anyone have a recipe for..." I miss this section so very much; it was classic! Such letters as: When Elmer and I were at a friend's for dinner over 25 years ago, she made this tasty dish using catfish and pimento cheese, but I lost the recipe. ...or... When my dad was growing up in Slobovia his mom made a special Christmas turkey that was stuffed with black jelly beans, I can't find the recipe anywhere. AND ONE TIME... I was at a church potluck and Velma made a jello mold using circus peanuts. She won't share her recipe, will you?
Here is where I have to add that I'm the person that actually eats circus peanuts (not the ones in a shell) those orangish flavored marshmallow candies. (When I tear open the bag Cricket has to leave the room.) Out of a bag, I eat about 6 of them and then, I'm done for a while - six months. (Not too long ago, my family showed up at the door and held an "intervention", but I digress.)
So, you won't find it unusual that I actually had a bag of circus peanuts (tho you may still find it unusual)... ...and what should be on the backside of the bag, but a recipe for orange jello mold with circus peanuts... As I stared at the recipe all the other requests began dancing around in my brain; violent nausea overwhelmed me when the realization became crystal clear... THEY WERE REAL... all those requests were for food that people had actually eaten...
Also gone from TOH is Ned's toothpick. While, in reality, this referred to a sketch of a toothpick that was cleverly hidden in the pages (the finder of which could receive some type of prize), there was an intro line of how Ned had lost his trusty toothpick and it was somewhere in the pages of the magazine. In my book, the word "trusty" can only mean that it had been used on more than one occasion. Gross...
Alas, the "In Our Family" section is also gone. This is where people share their own family traditions, prayers and customs... ...quaint. Mom never got to send her entry; she'd have sent it on a lark. She and Dad had had dinner at the home of friends from their church. When dinner was over the host announced that it was "Time for toothpicks." Out came the little canister of toothpicks that was passed around the table. The hosts and other guests sat at the table picking their teeth until the hostess passed around "the bowl". Into the bowl went all the toothpicks. This was revolting to my mom, but she was too polite to have ever said anything.
My mother's telling of this story was not as funny when she told it the first time. It was only after the second dinner they attended ,when new guests looked with horror at the other guests picking their teeth and at the bowl of used picks passed around after the meal, that Mom's story came into full bloom. I love to mention those old friends to Mom and hear that story and how it morphs depending on her mood...
...and so it goes, that Taste of Home has morphed into a cooking magazine; like all the others...
Gone is the quaint.
Gone is the absurd.
Gone are the toothpicks and grandmas.
Gone are the things that turn your stomach and strike your funny-bone.
It's odd, really, because those are the things, that are "Home".