Who doesn't love Taste of Home magazines? I grew up with them and now treasure them as an adult. I love them so much that I have a few boxes saved in a back closet. Although I freshened the box up by tossing out a few other magazines, the Taste of Home ones stayed.
Yes, I have a recipe addiction problem!
What is Taste of Home?
Taste of Home became a popular recipe-sharing magazine before the days of the Internet. Think of home cooks using church and fundraiser cookbooks with no pictures. Along came Taste of Home with beautiful, camera sharp pictures to inspire!
No longer did a home cook have to imagine what the recipe looked like. Actually, if it was a local cookbook the person was using, recipes were credited to someone you likely knew. If that person had a reputation for bringing tasty casseroles or cookies to potlucks, then their recipe was a sure win!
Now we have star ratings to help us make quick decisions (although colorful food images can make it even harder to make a choice).
Who owns Taste of Home?
When I grew up in Iowa in the eighties, everyone knew who owned Farm Wife News, it was Reiman Publishing, our neighbor to the north in Wisconsin. It was neat to see this midwest magazine experience overwhelming national success with their follow up magazine, Taste of Home, that launched in 1993.
In 2002, according to Midland News, Reader's Digest acquired Reiman Publications. However, the bulk of the business was sold to an investment group earlier. Taste of Home was not the only gem Reader's Digest gained. Birds & Blooms, Light & Tasty, Ranch Living (later Farm & Ranch Living), among others are still popular today.
Taste of Home is still in business under the umbrella of Reader's Digest. The magazine's content has expanded to includes ethnic and world cuisine, appealing to broader population segments.
Years ago, the subscription fulfillment center was based in Harlan, Iowa. Now that it is under Reader's Digest, customer service is still based there. The Taste of Home customer service page lists how to contact them.
At one time, there was a Reiman Publications visitor center in Greendale, Wisconsin. That location was permanently closed and then became a Goodwill center. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported as of April 1, 2022, a Reiman family investment group purchased the building, along with other investment properties on the same street. No one knows for sure what the future plans are for the building.
Back in its heyday, the Reiman visitor center attracted busloads of tourists who were fans of Taste of Home. The Wall Street Journal reported that over 52,000 visitors pilgrimaged to the center in 1999. One Taste of Home fan shares that "it is like a cult, you get the magazine, and you belong."
I recall my own aunt visiting the site on a tour bus and being very excited to share with everyone the details about the trip! Besides traveling cooking shows and the visitor center, there was merchandise to buy. The glass measuring cup above comes from a Taste of Iowa cooking show hosted in Ossian, Iowa.
I remember that there was all kinds of "heart" hats and clothes, "I love farming" - "Proud to be Farmwife" all connected with the media empire line of country products. They did very well for themselves.
How Taste of Home started
The single most amazing thing about all of these magazines - there is no advertising. The Reiman Publishing Company very early on set a mark of excellence for all of their publications. Through word of mouth and passing on the magazine, others soon subscribed.
Mr. Reiman happened to notice how two farm magazines eliminated news features geared toward women. According to Reiman “I wondered what was going to happen to all those women like my mother, who were the ones who really read those magazines. I figured they still wanted to read something."
Reiman saw an opportunity. He rented a mailing list of farmer' addresses and sent out a sample magazine to a small segment of farmwives as a test. The response not only confirmed that there was an interest for rural topics for rural women, the response was completely overwhelming.
No further testing was required; Reiman jumped on the market aimed at rural populations, and the rest is history. Today, if you want to see a copy of Farm Wife News, you will have to visit Ebay.
I will always fondly remember the support Farm Wife News brought to isolated rural women. Eighty percent of content was reader-submitted. Women could celebrate their success, and laugh along together with mistakes they made trying to be farmhands, a job they were automatically and probably unwillingly drafted for.
As more farmwives entered the workforce, the publication morphed into a magazine targeted to a more broader audience, "Country Woman."
The last bit of Reiman trivia - to all of you Iowans out there, Roy Reiman graduated from Iowa State University in 1957 with a degree in agricultural journalism - go Cyclones! As a ISU alumni myself, I recalled that the Reiman name was very familiar - the same as ISU Reiman Gardens.
I feel a little silly just making the famous connection years later. In 1993, alumnus, Roy Reiman and his wife Bobbi generously gave $1.3 million to initiate phase one of the new gardens. The Reiman legacy lives on in the popular midwest garden attraction.
What to do with old Taste of Home magazines
I don't consider myself a hoarder, but I have Taste of Home magazines dating back to 2006 (eek!). I ended my subscription because I wasn't keeping up with the magazines. Like most people, I figured I would enjoy the two boxes I had when I had more time (recipes don't expire!).
I did dig into them occasionally. Like most full-time workers with families, there is little time for magazine flipping. Luckily, my stay-at-home mom years were spent honing my cooking skills. During this time, I worked hard to set out new recipes in front of my family.
Those years paid off. I can quickly whip a meal out with minimal notice - thank you Taste of Home! Here are some ideas what to do with your old Taste of Home magazines:
- keep them!
- sell Taste of Home magazines and books on Ebay
- pass on to friends or family to enjoy
- save for when the power goes out or for reading on vacation or at the lake
- donate to an office that is willing to accept used magazines, such as a Dr.'s office or beauty salon, but ask first
Are the old Taste of Home magazines worth anything? I would say it's marginal. Use them and enjoy today rather than waiting for those old magazines to appreciate in price. Better yet, make some new memories and cook a meal with family or friends.
I still have my Taste of Home magazines. I can't help it, just like comfort food, they elicit warm and happy feelings. These old magazines hark of simpler times. I only hope the new digital generation can appreciate them like I do.