You might have seen obituaries for Peg Bracken, author of The I Hate to Cook Book. Peg would have made a good blogger: She was contrary and dyspeptic before it was widely fashionable, and there are passages in the aforementioned book that sound more like Gawker than 1960. Chapter 9 is entitled “Desserts, or People Are Too Fat Anyway,” while a passage about children’s birthday parties advises, “You are giving this party for the children, not for their mamas. That’s why you needn’t clean the house before they come, merely afterward. It also means you mustn’t let a mother in when she brings her little charge up to the door.”
Astonishingly, Birds Eye frozen foods took up Bracken as an official spokescrank. My vintage copy of The I Hate to Cook Book actually has the Birds Eye logo on it and this quote from Bracken on the back flap: “I may hate to cook, but thank goodness, Birds Eye likes to.” Would any food company today embrace a cookbook with the word “hate” in its title?
The I Hate to Cook Book succeeded ultimately as a well-timed stunt, a novelty book in the vein of Lisa Birnbach’s Official Preppy Handbook or Bruce Feirstein’s Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, and it deserves to be appreciated as such. But hey, Margalit Fox of The New York Times, what’s with that subtle dig at the end of your Bracken obit?