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The Original Poofy Cookbook Cover (& Why It's M.I.A.)

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Back in 1965, A Treasury of Great Recipes by actor Vincent Price and his wife, costume designer, Mary, was a cookbook of firsts:

  • the first written by a celebrity
  • the first—only?—written by a horror film actor
  • the first to regale stories and recipes from London’s The Ivy, The Four Seasons in New York, and Galatoire’s in New Orleans (among many other landmarks)
  • the first to publish recipes for both a terrine of sweetbreads and a stuffed frankfurter inspired by Dodger dogs
  • possibly the first cookbook with a puffy, pillow-like cover (and it was gold, too)
The 1965 edition (left) and the 2015 edition (right). Something's different, huh?
The 1965 edition (left) and the 2015 edition (right). Something's different, huh? Photo by Mark Weinberg

The 50th anniversary edition of this grand cookbook-travelogue that had been out of print for some time maintains its main tenors: the perfect title; the story time from the Prices' travels; the recipes untouched; every absurd, wonderful photo where it’s meant to be. But the puff is gone.

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In its place is something with “a more contemporary feel,” explains Kristine Anderson, the book publisher’s vice president of marketing. There's a shiny jacket, a mainstay of book design since the 19th century that hides a replica of the original cover, sans pouf.

Of the five or six options for cover images, the publisher chose one of Vincent and Mary in their home kitchen—one of the few in the book, and it shows Vincent prominently in a warm, welcoming setting.

It says “come eat oatmeal out of one of the copper pots” instead of the original edition, which is more “look at all the copper pots I collected around the globe.”

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Electric ice cream shining bright in the new edition (top); also, check out that chapter title.
Electric ice cream shining bright in the new edition (top); also, check out that chapter title. Photo by Mark Weinberg

In addition to the new “modern” jacket, the images also got a facelift. A team of designers worked on color correcting them—the colors are more vibrant and less yellow, but the images still illustrate an old-timey opulence. It’s like the queen got grills. One of our photographers, Mark Weinberg, gave his read on the new look:

"The images in the new book have been cooled down and the contrast has been increased. That said, the paper in the new book is a brighter stock, which may be contributing to the cooler, less yellow color."

Luckily (and thankfully), the rest of the book remains the same, with the addition of a foreword by Wolfgang Puck and a preface by the Price’s daughter, Victoria. In it, she quotes her father:

“Art and cuisine! Sisters at least, perhaps even closer.”

The Prices' cookbook is an artist's masterwork. And it’s finally back. But a little less gold.

Have you made anything from A Treasury of Great Recipes? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Tags: cookbooks, cookbook design