Bon Appetit has muffin top(and not the good kind)….

Photo from Bon

You’ve heard it before and I will say it to you now, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Case in point, the muffin top. The once delicious part of an actual muffin, the term has now come to (according to Wikipedia) “describe the phenomenon of overhanging flesh when it spills over the waistline of trousers or skirt in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing. This generally occurs when an individual wears low-rise, hip-hugger pants, or midriff-baring tops that are too small.” Meaning just because you can squeeze yourself into a size 8 pair of jeans, if your ass is a size 12, it ain’t going to look pretty.
Bon Appetit has made their own muffin top as of late. Whoever they have chosen as their photographer is going in a direction that, though he/she can, they really shouldn’t. Let us use this month’s cover as our first example. When I took that out of the mailbox I just stared at it. My first thought was, why is there poorly lit dog food on the cover. Yes, that was my real thought. For my dog, yes, CCS, has food that comes in a can that looks better than that. Why make shit brown stew, put it in copper pot, with harsh lighting and harsh shadows? What was even worse were the photos that went along with that segment. A close up of the stew (which probably is tasty but I wont be trying it) that made it look worse than the cover, and the most craptastic picture of macaroni and cheese I had ever seen. I love macaroni and cheese and this picture made me want to not eat it ever again, I find that sad. I am sure it serves some sort of great photographic purpose, I just don’t get that purpose, and more importantly I don’t want to eat that purpose.

Photo from Bon

And then there is the suspending of food. Though I think the idea of food being able to fly up to my mouth appealing as it saves me energy from lifting utensils, I don’t really find it appealing in any other sense. I think the photograph as a photograph is neat. However, I am suppose to want to eat this? And showcasing it how you are doesn’t say eat me. It says how the fuck am I going to eat that when it is in the air like that?
I have had a subscription to Bon Appetit since I was a sophomore in college. I used to look forward to getting the magazine in the mail. Now to be honest, it hardly gets read. I skim through it when it first comes in. But since nothing good seems to grab my attention, I seldom go back to actually read it. And I used to read it cover to cover. But now that cover to cover is mostly thin. Filled with ads, though the ads have better pictures than most of the stuff in the magazine now a days, I don’t want a magazine full of ads. My subscription is coming up for renewal and for the first time in 16 years, I will not be renewing my subscription. Maybe I am becoming old and this does really appeal to a younger generation, who knows, all I know is that it doesn’t appeal to me.
So Bon Appetit, I encourage you to find some new talent, there is a lot out there. Just check out the numerous food bloggers who take pictures, Bea and Aran alone should be in your magazine, along with many, many others. Please go back to taking pictures of food that looks like food people eat.

Peabody (your former subscriber)


  1. I canceled my subscription after the horendous ice cream cone cover issue. What are they doing and why are they ruining a perfectly good magazine? Ugh!
    I hadn’t seen this issue yet, but ick – doesn’t look like it is getting any better AT ALL.

  2. You know, I have not been able to read Bon Appetit magazine for quite some time now, for the same exact reason – the photographs make food look highly unappetizing!!! I’m glad to read that you too agree with this, and that I’m not just a “highly sensitive foodie” ;-)

  3. lol… hilarious rant. from a photography standpoint i think they are cool and innovative photos, but yea… definitely not appetizing! they must be taking trends from fashion/product photography and trying to apply them to food… doesn’t always work.

  4. I subscribe to Bon Appetit as well as Gourmet. You’re right, this month’s cover isn’t their greatest. The pot looks dirty on the outside and the stew looks unappetizing. Now that I take another look, I also have to agree about the other photos in the segment. Hm. I’ve been getting ticked with the amount of advertising in both BA and Gourmet, but Canadian Living is also full of ads these days. It seems like you can’t escape them. I still in general like BA, though, and it does have some good articles. The flying baking/desserts was strange, but I didn’t find it off-putting. I know didley squat about food photography (as evidenced by my own blog!) or food styling, so I don’t have as good an eye as many, but still, this issue is a bit bleak.

  5. I was also a longtime Bon Appetit subscriber and canceled several years ago. I was on the verge of resubscribing (mostly to get the Dorie Greenspan columns again) but…thanks, you’ve talked me out of it! I love eating homely-looking stew, but I don’t want to see it on the cover.

  6. Ok, seriously this post is hilarious and I totally thought the same thing about the dog food when I saw the cover!!!

  7. Thanks for this! I’m so glad I wasn’t sipping tea while reading this coz I would have done that spray-laugh thing and probably would have wrecked the computer.
    You’re so right about those pictures… awful! Now what would’ve been wrong with putting that flying cookie/cake/biscuit/macaron/whateverthehellitis on a plate and sticking that on the cover in place of the Purina?

  8. Hey we all agree food is not art . . . well, no all art is not food . . . that’s it.
    Maybe they just don’t remember what they are there for.
    Hey wait . . . there’s no recipe or any of your photos to eat . . . :(

  9. When I hear the expression “muffin top” all I can think is a Seinfeld epysope. But I also read that wikipedia description once… Anyway, food photography. I really admire people like Bea or Aran that can make beautiful, elegant pictures. They do belong in magazines. I don’t get Bon Appetit here, but sometimes I’m disgusted with the pictures I see in some magazines. I allways though Bon Appetit was a good one…

  10. I definitely agree with you! I received s free subscription this year and when I was given the option to subscribe at an extremely low price I passed. Not only have I been disappointed with the photos, but lately the recipes have been uninspiring.

  11. i had similar thoughts about the cover when i pulled it out of the mail. couldn’t it look more like comfort in a bowl than mysterious cafeteria fare?

  12. I don’t subscribe or read Bon Appetit – but I agree that the cover looks like dog food. Maybe they were so enamoured with the dirty-looking copper pot that they forgot to look at what was inside of it.

    This is hilarious –> “Though I think the idea of food being able to fly up to my mouth appealing as it saves me energy from lifting utensils, I don’t really find it appealing in any other sense”.

  13. Oh yes. Thank you for this. I haven’t seen this new cover yet but I have to say that is the worst this year. And it hasn’t been lovely so far. I actually started a forum thread about this. I remember there used to be a time when the stylists and photographers at BA could sell the sh*t out of the brownest stews in the world. They set tables, they took pictures of people enjoying them (I LOVE those!). Now it’s just… Not a lot of effort. Not very appetizing (hah, irony).

  14. well said (and hilariously put)! i used to really enjoy reading bon appetit, but the last issue i picked up (i don’t subscribe) didn’t do anything for me – where it used to inspire me, even as a teenager just learning how to get creative in the kitchen. i was extremely disappointed with the few recipes and page after page of ads. needless to say i won’t be picking up another issue for quite awhile…

  15. Oh my God, SO TRUE. I’ve been increasingly more and more perplexed by their photographs over the past few months. And their avant-garde minimalist cover last month?! It felt more like film noir than appetizing dinner. Although (haha) my husband thought the stew looked appealing, but he was really hungry at the moment and probably would have thought a shoe in a pot was a good dinner. We also get Food & Wine, and *their* covers make me want to mmmmm…..

  16. I noticed the suspended food in one of the last issues and said to myself “great photograph but it doesn’t want me to make the dish”. I have the new issue but honestly haven’t even looked at it yet.

  17. I completely agree! I was just telling my husband how I thought Bon Appetit has been going downhill lately and I don’t want to renew my subscription.

    When my husband saw the cover he also told me it looked like dog food (along with something else)!

    Thanks for a great post!

  18. LOL – Dog food! Yes, I thought similar thoughts when I looked at the cover. What happened to the luscious tempting foods that used to grace their covers? This is not appealing!

  19. Ah, but they have you (and the rest of us) ‘talking’ about their magazine – looks like they are doing something right.

    On the topic of muffin tops, I always laugh to myself when I hear that term because it reminds me of the show 30 Rock when the JEnna character has a hit top 40 song on the charts in Europe that is called Muffin Top and Yo Yo Ma is one of the musicians. Very funny stuff. Do check it out if you haven’t already.

  20. It’s funny, I was looking through the past couple issues of the magazine and there were several photographs that jumped out at me for poor quality. There were still a few recipes that I wanted to make, but I expected much better photography from that magazine, especially after seeing so many good pictures on blogs.

  21. I’ve just noticed that the US cover is different from the Canadian cover. If anything, ours is darker.

  22. Yeah, I finally gave up on BA a few years back… now I just flip through them at the grocery store and maybe buy 2 a year. Sad.

    Best wishes and all good juju to the LFB!

    By the way, I made the Whopper cupcakes and they were delish. Could NOT find plain malted milk powder around here anyplace (went to 3 grocery stores!) so was forced to use Ovaltine, but they were still darn good. Thanks!

  23. ROFL, “poorly lit dog food” ….. I love it Peabody….I couldn’t agree with you more, I quit subscribing to Bon Appetit years ago…..

  24. Too funny. I was a little surprised when I saw the cover too. Very unappetizing. How about a llttle color, and not in a pot that looks like it came out of some meth-heads trailer.

    But I have to disagree (slightly) with the trend of the magazine. Several years ago I thought it was going downhill and the only reason I kept receiving it was because my mother renewed it every Christmas. But over the last year or so I’ve been impressed that at least they’re doing something different.

    I’ve more or less lost my interest in Cooking Light, too. I guess I’m just more into the know-how and sciene from magazines like Cook’s Illustrated and Fine Cooking. And, of course, the wit of Culinary Concoctions By Peabody. :-)

  25. I thought this month’s cover was dog food, as well. Glad I’m not the only one!

  26. I am very confused by that second picture. Why suspend food like that? Is it supposed to make it more appetizing?

  27. I literally had to run over to the counter to see the Bon Apetite. I haven’t even looked at it yet this month!

  28. Wow… This makes me glad I didn’t fork over the money for a subscription. I can’t believe such photographs would really be published- anywhere- let alone in Bon Appetit!

  29. and didn’t they do the suspended food thing for their burgers an issue or two ago? and then martha did it for hers? BORING!! and yes, that stew pot of is craptastic!

  30. I’m with you on this. Part of the reason I buy cooking magazines is the scrumptious photography! Well, if I’m being honest, it’s probably 90% photography and 10% everything else.If the photos are crap, I’m not buying it.

  31. Carole Resnick says:

    I agree the pictures are awful. I have received and kept evey issue of BA and Gourmet for the past 25 years. It is fun to pull out old issues and track the popularity of the time.

    Although the pictures are bad I will continue my subscriptions. I get the magazines for the recipes. With my subscriptions the magazines cost about $1.50 each per issue. If I can find one recipe in a issue that is worth trying and saving I feel I have gotten value from my subscription.

    Think of all the cookbooks you have and compare the cost of the book against the number of recipes tried.

    And, in my humble opinion, most stews, as well as meatloaf, look like dog food.

  32. Amen, my friend.
    I hope they would listen to you.
    I’m sad because there are other better magazines that don’t offer subscriptions to Brazil (and there are not many good food magazines here, unfortunately). But that doesn’t mean I’ll put up with the mess Bon Appétit is doing.

  33. THANK YOU. It’s not just the photography, Peabody, it’s the whole stinking layout of the magazine. They changed it this year, and started playing around with dozens of fonts, different sized typeface, and horrible drawings. I used to read the magazine on the elliptical machine at the gym, and now I barely look at it. I have 20/20 vision, and I need a freaking magnifying glass to read some of the recipes.

  34. I do hope others agree with you here. I am one of them. I’ve always wondered why those two magazines were so popular. I always thoguht it was the ‘norm’ to have a subscription–never mind the recipes, just the fact that you had a subscription to these then you were in the club.
    I like other food magazines that really teach you how to cook, create, try, test,etc… Like Cooks Illustrated or Donna Hay magazine (you might like this one Peabody). Her cookbooks are fabulous.

  35. I think that you should write them a letter and become their head photographer!!

  36. Oh dear that front cover fo the ‘dog food’ does look a little offputting. Don’t like the cherry thing suspended in the air either, it looks as though its been shot. Maybe they were trying something different?

  37. Well done, you are the first person to be brave enough to talk about this..I often look at food photography and then wonder why are these photographs in a magazine and I am trying my guts out to even get an innings at a magazine..I have submitted some of my better photos(not that I am great, but…) but the editors are not very open to even look at new talent…I think most people in the magazine business, worked so heart for their positions, that they are hanging on for dear life, while here in the blogosphere, sharing is the in-thing!!!

  38. hard not “heart, oops!!!!No wonder they do not want me near a magazine, with spelling like that!!!!

  39. Your point would be better made without all the cursing. Not that I don’t curse from time to time… okay probably every day, but when venting that something is going down the tubes, a cleaner line is always taken more seriously.

  40. I’m glad I’m not the only one, Peabody! I’ve been drawing most of my magazine inspiration from the Australian mags lately – Donna Hay, delicious, Vogue Entertaining and Travel. I’m not sure *what* is up with the American food magazines – it’s been very disappointing! Even though the Australian mags are $$$ to buy here I still do it because they actually get my mouth watering!

  41. I saw this magazine and couldn’t even be bothered to pick it up. Nothing appealing about it at all.

  42. If you don’t mind me asking, what magazine subscription do you get that is your fav?

    I’ve gone through BA a couple times b/c a co-worker has a subscription. The recipes seem way complicated and have too many ingredients for my taste.

  43. I think you said it all! The suspended food creeps me out too…

  44. Eileen-LOL, I actually took away some of my swear words…so that was tame version. Oh and most people don’t take me seriously, I have a dog and bunny running for president on this blog. ;)

  45. My copy is still on the counter, unread. I will get to it, I just haven’t been dropping everything to pour through immediately lately. What are you reading these days that is impressing you?

  46. I used to work in prepress so I’m pretty okay with changes in the art direction of publications, even my favorites, but what an awful mess they’ve made of BA. I’ve been reading BA for at least 20 years, been through other style, art, content changes but really what are they thinking??? Lousy pictures! How can you sell food with unappetizing pictures? I’m not renewing subscription either. My sister sends me the loveliest food porn daily from her blog list. Made these tonight as a matter of fact.

    If I need a recipe or want to see spectacular food pictures, I know where to go-bloggers. You guys rock.

  47. yeah, i have to agree with you. everything you have said is spot on… i don’t want dog food on the cover and i don’t want flying food that looks like is dripping blood.

  48. oh dear oh dear! how right you are. Bon Appetit’s pictures have been going downhill for awhile now, but this past issue really is the worst. It’s actually gross. I wonder if anyone at BA reads this blog. I really hope so.

  49. Somebody needs to send them a text message and say “eat with your eyes first”…wonder if they would want it. Blech.

  50. What everyone else said about this spot on rant against the new, hipper BA.

    I’m in the process of deciding which two of the eight food magazines I get I will renew and I can tell you right now which one ISN’T in the running to be one of the two.

    I actually thought it looked like the new cat food with real veggies I’m feeding LB ;-)


  1. […] A few months ago, I counted five different fonts on one page alone, and finally gave up.  And, I’m not alone in my disappointment over the changes in a much-loved magazine. I really appreciate the magazine trying to keep things fresh and interesting, but I think they […]

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