Product Design

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

February 23, 2016

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? 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.

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.

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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.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“My husband worked for Sears back in the day and Vincent was connected with Sears as a celebrity, maybe selling art. There was a promotion so some employees got the Treasury ... maybe even prepublication. Not signed, though. I misplaced my book or lent it along the way so am working from memory here but these were my favorites: Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, House bread, a Yule log, a fresh strawberry cake, and banana bread. Pineapple macadamia nut bread was a winner, too, but those nuts were a bit pricey back in the day. Tried to surprise my dad once with Vincent's Hunters Chicken, but, lo and behold, it just turned into the good old Italian standby, chicken cacciatore. Loved the recipes the stories, and the pictures of Mary and Vincent's lovely house. ”
— Sheila
Comment

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.”

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.

14 Comments

Sheila June 20, 2018
This was my go to cookbook for years. My husband worked for Sears back in the day and Vincent was connected with Sears as a celebrity, maybe selling art. There was a promotion so some employees got the Treasury ... maybe even prepublication. Not signed, though. I misplaced my book or lent it along the way so am working from memory here but these were my favorites: Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, House bread, a Yule log, a fresh strawberry cake, and banana bread. Pineapple macadamia nut bread was a winner, too, but those nuts were a bit pricey back in the day. Tried to surprise my dad once with Vincent's Hunters Chicken, but, lo and behold, it just turned into the good old Italian standby, chicken cacciatore. Loved the recipes the stories, and the pictures of Mary and Vincent's lovely house.
 
Sauertea February 25, 2016
Have never made anything from it. I think my parents have a copy. I am going to have to see if they will share it<br />
 
Richard H. February 25, 2016
I've been baking with the Vincent Price House Bread recipe for years, to virtually unanimous applause!
 
Stefanie S. February 25, 2016
We own two copies - one is signed (my husband is a Vincent Price fan, saw him speak years ago and got him to sign it.) The gingerbread is amazing and the basis for my experiments with three ginger gingerbreads - soon to be published in Hogtown HomeGrown.
 
B C. February 25, 2016
I have two 1965 copies. One has the 'poofy' cover, the other no. The first has a grosgrain ribbon to mark you place, some of the paper seems to be of a finer quality, and the color plates are markedly more to my taste in color. The gold tone edge is nicer than the brown. The recipes are the same, but it is nice to have a reminder that class was not always at the bottom of the list when assigning priorities so it feel off first when more editions or reprints are made. <br />
 
Greenstuff February 24, 2016
My copy of this book says 1966. It makes no reference to a 1965 edition, but it looks just like it, except no there is no poof. It's just as well, as I put off buying Plenty far too long, just because I thought I disliked that "weird sponge" of a cover.
 
Third F. February 23, 2016
While I'm not a fan of "poofy covers" (I have over three hundred cookbooks and very limited shelf space), I do love "poofy" volumes such as Yottolnengi's Jerusalem, Plenty, and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. These take up a bit more shelf space and are difficult to store in a horizontal stack since they lean towards the spine.
 
ZanaA February 23, 2016
I still have my Mum's original copy. She wrote to the Prices to tell them how much that she enjoyed their book and got a handwritten reply, faceplate and signed picture that all now sit with the book. Haven't seen the new version, but like my Mum, I've been working my way through the book.
 
Jimmy H. February 23, 2016
I gave a copy of the original publishing to my husband for Christmas a few years ago. I spotted it in a used cookbook shop in Charleston while we were there for our anniversary. Quite the ordeal to indicate to the clerk that it was a gift for the person that was in the shop with me. They were wonderful at keeping the secret and shipped it with discretion. He was so excited to receive it.
 
Rachel February 23, 2016
I'd love to buy an original of this (fell in love with the poufy cover). Any ideas on where one would acquire such a thing?
 
Author Comment
Ali S. February 23, 2016
Our co-founder Amanda got hers (the one in the shot!) at Omnivore Books in San Francisco.
 
cv February 23, 2016
I suggest you try Abebooks.com. It's a used bookstore aggregation site started in the mid-Nineties (as Advanced Book Exchange) where tens of thousands of merchants sell used (and some new) books.<br /><br />It is now owned by Amazon.com. Individual orders still ship directly from the merchant not Amazon's warehouses.<br /><br />It is a good place to start if you're seeking an out-of-price or obscure book.
 
Angel February 26, 2016
I bought 2 on ebay for gifts.
 
kathie E. February 23, 2016
I have the puffy cover version!