Not so joyful Joy of Cooking

joyfoods1.jpgI’m not sure what the people at Joy of Cooking were thinking when they came up with this one. There are now a series of frozen meals offered under the revered cookbook’s brand name. I noticed a billboard last week with a really Donna Reed-esque model for the new line, and it really creeped me out. First off, though I have eaten many a frozen meal, I would never even try to pass it off as cooking, and it seems a disservice to the Joy of Cooking idea to do otherwise. Popping a bag of roasted chicken stuff into the microwave isn’t so much cooking as heating up, and while fine for what it is, I’m sure, it doesn’t nearly present the joy that comes with making your own meal from scratch.

Oh, dear…..and to make matters that much more weird, the model’s name is Joy (duh) and she even has her own pseudo-site: Large house, check; white picket fence, check. So for all of you ladies out their pining to recover the Donna Reed in you, here’s a way to do it! It’s just not tongue-in-cheek enough to be funny, and so sort of has this weirdness about it….I know I’m rambling, but there’s just something about this whole thing that really bugs me.

I can’t help but thank that Irma Rombauer, first author of the Joy cookbook, did not ever, ever have this in mind. It contradicts the whole spirit of her enterprise.


4 responses »

  1. Totally disagree. Re-read Irma’s book, it’s about making women’s lives simpler, and enjoying the part meals play in that. If she were around, who are you to say that she wouldn’t be all for a line of foods that you can throw in a pan, bake and use to supplement the part of the meal you did make? Irma’s son, the current author of the book, seemed to think it would sit well with her. The food is good too, BTW.

    I looked at too. Not tongue-in-cheek enough to be funny? You must require that something be EXTREMELY tongue-in-cheek to achieve ‘funny-ness’. I found it hilarious. The movies especially.

    Your post bugged me, b/c I know that cookbook, and the food they are now making is good…and you seem to think that is a bad thing b/c of some loyalty you have to the person you think Irma was. Plus you don’t seem to have the humor to call a funny ad a funny ad, or website in the case.

  2. Well, it’s fair that you disagree. I understand your points. I think, though, that taking Irma’s perspective too seriously might be problematic: after all, she was writing in a very different time and place when women were expected to stay and home and do the cooking (and do it well!) To that end, I suppose you’re right that she might support the frozen foods. But we live in a different time and place and I for one am exhausted by all the ads that picture women as the consumers of all food and cleaning goods; we may as well be the main consumers, but the advertising only reinforces the idea that women are keepers of the home and little else.

    And at any rate, if the idea of Joy was to make home cooking easier and more clearly explained, then the frozen foods really defeats that purpose! Even if they’re tasty, they still aren’t the same as doing it yourself and partaking in the joy of that process. To me, that’s what Joy was about. It’s no particular loyalty on my part that says that–I have a couple dozen cookbooks in pretty heavy rotation, and don’t even think Joy is always the best one. But the spirit of the book is what I’m talking about here. Frozen foods pretty much negate that spirit, in this way; frozen peas or corn are one thing, entire meals another.

    I didn’t see the movies; I’ll have to go back and check them out. I did like the weird bugman on the front page; there’s just something really creepy to me about Joy herself. Too over the top, perhaps? I don’t know if I can put my finger on it.

  3. I, too, can not disagree more with “Sweetpea”. Today’s day-in-age mothers and fathers can barely find time
    to feed their families at all, let alone having to find time to cook meals from scratch! That’s just SO NOT
    today’s real family. I actually find it a little creepy that YOU are so weirded out by the Joy Of Cooking
    franchise moving to fast, healthy meals for the family and that you continue to go on about how you’re weirded out
    by the model they have chosen. I’ve seen the billboards, the ads and have tasted the frozen food and its all
    FABULOUS! Ok, so you like the “weird bugman” but yet, you don’t like “Joy”? Why? Because they picked a woman
    to represent their line (which it should be a woman because her name is “JOY” for obvious reasons)? I hope
    more visitors can see past your complaining and try the food- its delicious! And fast! Oh, and if you haven’t
    seen the print ads yet- wait until you see the new “Joy”! She’s GORGEOUS! The bug is cute, too. She’ll make
    a great modern-day Betty Crocker. GO JOY OF COOKING!

  4. You know, I think you’re taking this awfully far. All I said–in a nutshell–was that I found the idea of frozen Joy of Cooking products to be outside what I take Joy of Cooking to mean: joy in actually cooking. I also find the icon–Joy–over-the-top and thus a little creepy. I take issue with your suggestion that having a woman represent the product bugs me–that is hardly the case, SAVE the potential idea that it reinforces modern woman as Donna Reed, though I’m sure very few people take it with that much seriousness. Why on earth would I care that her name is Joy? I think she’s heavily made up and looks a little doll-like, that’s why I find it creepy. And I have no problem with the Joy of Cooking; it’s just the spirit I think is violated. I would never claim to understand how modern parents take care of their families, not being one myself, and I certainly didn’t make that claim here. Though I’d like to suggest that expensive frozen foods are probably hardly practical for most modern families, but I’ll just leave it at that. I am not a complainer; I was just commenting on what I saw as something of an inconsistency in the new direction Joy is taking, but it was nothing beyond that. I hardly take myself that seriously.

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