Ad Drought Closes Gourmet and Modern Bride Magazines


Gourmet Magazine, an American classic, found a slump in ad sales spelled the recipe for disaster.

That’s why Conde Nast Publications is closing the oldest food magazine in the US along with Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, and the parent magazine Cookie, which I have to admit I’ve only glanced at in the doctor’s office waiting room.

While the bride magazines are used as sources to stimulate ideas for women planning their big events, Gourmet has long been the bible of American epicureans, fond of cutting out recipes for those summer salads and Thanksgiving pies. The highly respected journal, described as the “magazine of good living,” was launched in 1941 by Earle R. MacAusland, and included articles on wine and travel.

Recently, the magazine increased its coverage of healthy and organic fare, even dedicating a cocktail to actor-environmentalist Brad Pitt. It said it wasn’t just his pretty face, but the time he has devoted to the planet that inspired the refreshing cooler made with organic lime, organic cucumber, organic mint, and even Crop Organic cucumber vodka.

2 wedges of organic lime
2 thin slices fresh organic cucumber
Sprig of organic mint
2 oz (1/4 cup) Crop Organic cucumber vodka
3 to 4 oz seltzer

brad pitt

According to the Associated Press, Gourmet had a circulation of 980,000 last year, but despite its devoted audience of chefs and food lovers, its ad pages fell like a badly-timed souffle, down 50 percent in the second quarter from the year before, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. That’s considered one of the biggest declines ever for a popular title.

Magazines have been trying to brave the recession by experimenting with their pages, even introducing video adverts inside to lure computer screen conditioned readers, as with Entertainment Weekly. In terms of the fashion magazines, there are more eco sources developing on the web. It seems, that is where they will all end up.

Conde Nast spokeswoman Maurie Perl said some 180 employees of the four titles will be leaving the company with severance packages by the end of the week. Earlier in the year, the high-level publisher shut down Portfolio, a business journal, and Domino, a beloved shelter magazine.

It’s reported that in a staff memo, Conde Nast CEO Charles Townsend said the closures were required “to navigate the company through the economic downturn and to position us to take advantage of coming opportunities.”

Conde Nast, run by billionaire S.I. Newhouse Jr., also publishes Vogue, the New Yorker and Wired. The 19 remaining magazines owned by the company include Bon Appetit, which boasts a larger circulation than Gourmet at 1.4 million. Another foodie book, its ad pages drop isn’t much better at 40 percent.

Conde Nast promises Gourmet‘s brand will live on in books and TV programming and you will still see recipes on


Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.