Better Homes and Gardens (magazine)
November 2005 cover
|Categories||home economics, interior design|
|Based in||Des Moines, Iowa|
Better Homes and Gardens is the fourth best selling magazine in the United States. Its current editor-in-chief is Gayle Butler. Better Homes and Gardens focuses on interests regarding homes, cooking, gardening, crafts, healthy living, decorating, and entertaining. The magazine is published 12 times per year by the Meredith Corporation. It was founded in 1922 by Edwin Meredith, who had previously been the United States Secretary of Agriculture under Woodrow Wilson.
Better Homes and Gardens is one of the "Seven Sisters", a group of women's service magazines.
Better Homes and Gardens was founded in 1922 by Edwin T. Meredith under the title Fruit, Garden and Home. The first editor was Chesla Sherlock.
The magazine began with a circulation of 150,000 copies in its first year, rising to over one million by its fourth year of publication. It changed its name to Better Homes and Gardens in 1924.
In the 1930s, the magazine actively promoted "home betterment," that could be financed by the federal National Housing Act loans; for which Meredith Publishing had lobbied. "With operation of the Act, the Government does indeed lend its financial aid and backing and unrestrained support to the Better Homes and Gardens philosophy—better homes." Advertisers offered guides to applying for these federal loans. 
The Meredith Corporation publishes a number of books on home economics and gardening under the BH&G brand, the best known of which is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, colloquially known as the "Red Plaid" book. Now in its 15th edition (published in August 2010), the Red Plaid was originally published in 1930. Meredith also publishes the New Junior Cookbook for children learning to cook.
The magazine's title was used by Meredith's real estate arm, which was sold and then called GMAC Real Estate. In October 2007, Meredith entered a 50-year licensing agreement with Realogy Corporation to license the Better Homes and Gardens name to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. The company is based in Parsippany, New Jersey, and has offices across the country.
Meredith's broadcasting division began producing the television program Better in the fall of 2007, which is a lifestyle show which has a mix of content from Meredith's various magazine titles (included BH&G), consumer advice and celebrity interviews. The program currently airs on stations owned by Meredith, Journal, Fisher and LIN TV groups. Some Meredith-owned stations produce their own local edition of Better.
An Australian edition is also published, under licence, by Pacific Magazines and there is also a television show which airs on the Seven Network. The Australian edition is the 6th best selling consumer magazine in Australia. The Australian edition has been publishing since July 1978.
References in popular culture
Mad Magazine published a satire in 1958 (issue #53) titled "Bitter Homes and Gardens," including articles titled "They Built Their House on a Lot 22 Inches Wide" (A house built between two office buildings); a "How-The..." department which suggests putting a lawn on rollers so one can drag it "to a nearby spot where it's raining"; and an article on how to convert a second bathroom into a basement (with a photo of the author's wife, who has just stepped out of the shower and covers herself with a towel). The magazine was also spoofed in the 1970s as "Bitter Homes and Garbage", in a set of "Crazy Magazine Covers" produced by Fleer.
In an episode of "I Love Lucy", Lucy jokes about the magazine as, "Better Homes and Garbage" when she and Ethel redecorate Lucy's apartment.
An episode of The Simpsons showed a brief shot of a magazine entitled Better Homes Than Yours.
In Little Shop of Horrors Audrey sings in "Somewhere That's Green" about how her dream house is a "picture out of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine."
In country recording artist Miranda Lambert's 2010 hit single titled "The House That Built Me", there is a verse that says, "Mama cut out pictures of houses for years from Better Homes and Gardens magazine".
- Chesla Sherlock (1922–1927)
- Elmer T. Peterson (1927–1937)
- Frank W. McDonough (1938–1950)
- J. E. Ratner (1950–1952)
- Hugh Curtis (1952–1960)
- Bert Dieter (1960–1967)
- James A. Riggs (1967–1970)
- James Autry (1970–1979)
- Gordon Greer (1979–1983)
- David Jordan (1984–1993)
- Jean LemMon (1993–2001)
- Karol DeWulf Nickell (2001–2006)
- Gayle Butler (2006–present)
- "Alliance for Audited Media Snapshot Report - 6/30/2013". Alliance for Audited Media. June 30, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- Carol Reuss, Books at Iowa, no. 17, November 1972. Link
- Better Homes & Gardens, Vol. 13 No.2, Oct 1922