The Joy of Cooking

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the cookbook. For the folk-rock band, see Joy of Cooking (band).
The Joy of Cooking
Cover of 1975 edition
Author Irma S. Rombauer
Genre Cookbook
Publisher Bobbs-Merrill, Scribner
Publication date
ISBN 0-02-604570-2
OCLC 1444322

Joy of Cooking, often known as "The Joy of Cooking", is one of the United States' most-published cookbooks, and has been in print continuously since 1936 and with more than 18 million copies sold. It was privately published in 1931 by Irma S. Rombauer, a homemaker in St. Louis, Missouri, who was struggling emotionally and financially after her husband's suicide the previous year. Rombauer had 3,000 copies printed by A.C. Clayton, a company which had printed labels for fancy St. Louis shoe companies and for Listerine, but never a book. In 1936, the book was picked up by a commercial printing house, the Bobbs-Merrill Company. Joy is the backbone of many home cooks' libraries and is commonly found in commercial kitchens as well.

First edition (1931)[edit]

In 1931, Rombauer, a recent widow needing a way to occupy her time, self-published The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat.

The book was illustrated by Rombauer's daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker, who directed the art department at John Burroughs School. Working on weekends during the winter of 1930-31, Marion designed the cover, which depicted St. Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of cooking, slaying a dragon. She also produced silhouette cutouts to illustrate chapter headings.[1]

Second edition (1936)[edit]

An expanded (640 page) second edition was published in 1936 by the Bobbs-Merrill Company.[2] The company had limited experience in publishing cookbooks, and Irma Rombauer, similarly inexperienced in dealing with publishers, conducted the negotiations herself, with no agent or lawyer involved. The resulting contract, in which Bobbs-Merrill was granted the copyright not only for the 1936 edition but also for the original 1931 version, set the stage for many years of bitter conflict between the author and the publisher.[3]:151–153

The 1936 edition differed from other commercial cookbooks of the era in its retention of the author's folksy comments and anecdotes, and also in a new layout for the recipes.[3]:153–154 Instead of listing the ingredients for a dish at the top with preparation directions following, the recipes in the 1936 Joy unfolded as narratives, with the ingredients indicated as the need for them arose, with each placed in boldface on a new indented line — thus preserving a conversational tone throughout the recipe. These innovations, along with an aggressive marketing effort by Bobbs-Merrill, led to brisk sales.[3]:159–161 By the end of 1942, the second edition had gone through six printings, and 52,151 copies had been sold.[2]

Third edition (1943/1946)[edit]

In 1939, Rombauer published Streamlined Cooking, a collection of recipes that could be prepared in under 30 minutes, with an emphasis on use of canned and frozen foods. This book was not a commercial success,[3]:166–169 but many of the recipes it contained became part of a new edition of Joy published in 1943. This edition also included material aimed at helping readers deal with wartime rationing restrictions, including alternatives to butter in some recipes.[4] Sales of this edition were phenomenal: from 1943 through 1946 a total of 617,782 copies were sold, surpassing sales of Joy's principal competitor, Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cookbook.[3]:172

A minor revision of the 1943 edition was published in 1946. While substantially the same as its predecessor, the 1946 revision omitted the material related to wartime rationing, and incorporated additional recipes from Streamlined Cooking.[2]

Fourth edition (1951)[edit]

Irma Rombauer was 69 when the 1946 edition of Joy was published, and her health was beginning to decline.[3]:194–195 She was concerned over the future of her book, since Bobbs-Merrill (owning the copyright on the original publication) might have picked an author of their own choosing for future editions once she herself was unable to continue. To ensure that the book remained a family project, she negotiated a clause in her contract with the publisher naming her daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker, as her sole successor in any future revision.[3]:201

Relations between Rombauer and Bobbs-Merrill, never cordial, reached a point of open warfare in the late 1940s, and in the fracas Marion Becker gradually assumed more and more responsibility, at first regarding the book's design, and eventually its content. Partly for legal reasons, the 1951 edition was published with Marion Rombauer Becker listed as co-author, and receiving 40% of the royalties.[3]:chap 8

Becker was a passionate advocate of healthy eating, and the 1951 edition was marked by increased emphasis on such topics as whole grains and fresh produce. Many of the old "can-opener" recipes from Streamlined Cooking were dropped. The authors having strongly resisted the publisher's wish to illustrate the book with photographs, it was embellished instead with simple, functional line drawings by Ginnie Hoffman, a friend of Becker's.[3]:262–270

Because of the time taken by the protracted legal battles, final editing of the 1951 edition was hastily done. The same edition was reprinted in 1952 with some errors corrected, and again in 1953 with a revised index.[2]

Fifth edition (1964)[edit]

Well-worn copies of the book from the library of Julia Child on display at the National Museum of American History

In 1962, the year of Irma Rombauer's death, a revised edition of Joy was published. This edition was released without Marion Becker's consent. Subsequent releases of the book in 1963 and 1964 were essentially massive corrections, and Becker arranged for the publisher to exchange copies of the 1962 edition for later corrected versions upon request.[3]:342

The foreword to this edition explains that Becker's favorite recipes include "Cockaigne" in the name, (e.g., "Fruit Cake Cockaigne"), after the name of her country home in Anderson Township, near Cincinnati, Ohio.[5][6]

This edition was also published in paperback format (most notably, a two-volume mass market paperback edition). It is still widely available in used bookstores. The 1964 edition was also released as a single-volume comb-ring bound paperback mass-market edition starting in November 1973 and continuing into the early 1990s (ISBN 0-452-25665-8).

Sixth edition (1975)[edit]

The 1975 edition was the last to be edited by Becker, and remains the most popular. More than 1,000 pages long, it became a staple in kitchens throughout the country. Though many of the sections may feel dated to the contemporary American palate, many home chefs still find it a useful reference and it is still widely consulted.

The 1975 edition remained in print, primarily in various inexpensive paperback editions, until the 75th Anniversary edition arrived in 2006.

Seventh edition (1997)[edit]

After the 1975 edition, the project lay unchanged for about 20 years. In the mid-1990s, publisher Simon and Schuster, which owns the Joy copyrights, hired influential cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, formerly of Willam Morrow, and editor of works by Jeff Smith and others. Guarnaschelli, under the supervision of Rombauer's grandson Ethan Becker, oversaw the creation of the controversial 1997 edition, published by Simon & Schuster's Scribner imprint. The new edition kept the concise style of its predecessors, but dropped the conversational first-person narration. Much of the book was ghostwritten by teams of expert chefs instead of the single dedicated amateur that Irma Rombauer had been when she created the book. The 1997 version is fairly comprehensive, covering a great deal of detail that is not traditionally part of[citation needed] American cooking;[clarification needed] however, it deleted much information about ingredients and frozen desserts.

Originally sold with the title The All-New, All-Purpose Joy of Cooking, it was reissued in February 2008 with the title The 1997 Joy of Cooking after being sold for some time alongside the 2006 edition.

Eighth edition (2006) 75th Anniversary Edition[edit]

In 2006, a 75th anniversary edition was published by Scribner, containing 4,500 recipes and returning Rombauer's original voice to the book. The new version removes some of the professionalism of the 1997 edition and returns many simpler recipes and recipes assisted by ready-made products such as cream of mushroom soup and store-bought wontons. The 2006 edition also reinstates the cocktail section and the frozen desserts section, and restores much of the information that was deleted in the 1997 edition.

The new version includes a new index section called "Joy Classics" that contains 35 recipes from 1931–1975 and a new nutrition section.

Other special editions and printings[edit]

In 1995, a hardbound edition illustrated by Ginnie Hofmann and Ikki Matsumoto was released.

In 1998, a reproduction, described as "a perfect facsimile of that original 1931 edition", was released.


  1. ^ "IRMA ROMBAUER: THE JOY OF COOKING, 1877-1962". Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jarvits, Janis. "Joy of Cooking: a listing of the American editions". Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mendelson, Anne (1996). Stand Facing the Stove. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-2904-4. 
  4. ^ Becker, Marion Rombauer (1966). Little Acorn. Bobbs-Merrill. ASIN B0018O4N82. 
  5. ^ Rombauer, Irma S.; Marion Rombauer Becker (1967 printing). Joy of Cooking (hardbound) (1964 ed.). Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited Edition). p. 2 of Foreword (not numbered). Finally, in response to many requests from users of "The Joy" who ask "What are your favorites?", we have added to some of our recipes the word "Cockaigne", which signified in medieval times "a mythical land of peace and plenty," and also happens to be the name of our country home.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  6. ^ Mendelson, Anne. "The History of the Joy of Cooking [on the Joy of Cooking official website]". Retrieved 7 December 2013. In this edition, Marion, who loved the sense of sharing pleasures with reader-friends as much as Irma, pointed to her family’s special favorites with the designation “Cockaigne”—the name of the Beckers’ beloved Cincinnati home, where she had created an eight-acre “wild garden” and model of ecological restoration.…Because of serious author-publisher disagreements, though, the new edition was not published in a form acceptable to Marion until 1963 (a garbled version had appeared in 1962, the year of Irma’s death). 

External links[edit]