Head­er image via Flickr/​Paul Townsend

This essay, by Sarah Rich, is excerpt­ed from Leave Me Alone with the Recipes: The Life, Art, and Cook­book of Cipe Pine­les. Cipe (pro­nounced C. P.”) was one of the most influ­en­tial graph­ic design­ers of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, and the first female art direc­tor at Condé Nast. The fol­low­ing piece is about the inno­v­a­tive mag­a­zine, called Food & Drink, that she planned to launch in the 1960s.

In the ear­ly 1960s, Cipe decid­ed to more for­mal­ly and ful­ly incor­po­rate her love of food into her mag­a­zine work by launch­ing a new pub­li­ca­tion enti­tled Food & Drink. At the time, Gourmet Mag­a­zine had been in print for twen­ty years, but it, along with the few oth­er titles in the same cat­e­go­ry, tar­get­ed female home­mak­ers. In con­trast, Food & Drink would be for both men and women; it would not only be instruc­tion­al but inves­tiga­tive and intel­lec­tu­al, look­ing at gas­tron­o­my through the eyes of some of the great­est writ­ers of that era. The list of planned con­trib­u­tors includ­ed Mar­i­anne Moore, Eudo­ra Wel­ty, Pierre Salinger, Clifton Fadi­man, and Erich Fromm in addi­tion to food greats like M.F.K. Fish­er, Eliz­a­beth David, and Craig Clai­borne. The edi­to­r­i­al team was to be led by James Beard, along with Helen McCul­ly, who had been the food edi­tor at McCall’s and House Beau­ti­ful; Tra­cy Samuels, a Bet­ter Liv­ing mag­a­zine edi­tor and play­wright; and Cipe, whose cred­its at that point includ­ed Sev­en­teen, Charm, Made­moi­selle, Vogue, and others.

The team had the sup­port of Richard V. Ben­son, a wealthy direct­mail adver­tis­ing mag­nate who had found­ed Amer­i­can Her­itage mag­a­zine and helped start Smith­son­ian. His intro­duc­to­ry let­ter to Food & Drink began, Dear Bon Vivants … From our ances­tors’ prim­i­tive for­ag­ing for nuts and berries and wild boar, gas­tron­o­my has become one of man’s most fas­ci­nat­ing and com­plex occu­pa­tions. Yet, until now, there has nev­er been a mag­a­zine which exam­ined this field reg­u­lar­ly, com­pre­hen­sive­ly, engagingly.”

The edi­to­r­i­al team made an extra effort to empha­size men’s poten­tial inter­est in the mag­a­zine, since it could be tak­en for grant­ed that women would grav­i­tate toward it. Anoth­er teas­er for the pub­li­ca­tion, writ­ten by Beard, began, We men like to read about food and drink as much as women do. Maybe more. But we haven’t exact­ly been encour­aged to take a good romp through fine eat­ing ter­ri­to­ry on the print­ed page. Most of the mate­r­i­al pub­lished in mag­a­zines seems to be aimed exclu­sive­ly at women. And only at cer­tain kinds of women, at that. It’s coy and cute. Or frilly. Or dull. Or long-wind­ed. Or mean­der­ing, with recipes as leav­en for oth­er­wise flighty essays. High time all that was changed, in our opin­ion. And changed it is, with the first issue of Food & Drink, the new mag­a­zine for the inner man.”

Cipe’s archives, housed at the Rochester Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy, include typed and hand-sketched pages for the first few issues of the mag­a­zine. Vol­ume 1 was set to include a piece from mys­tery writer Rex Stout enti­tled Nero Wolfe Cooks an Orchid” (Wolfe being the fic­tion­al pro­tag­o­nist of Stout’s many detec­tive nov­els). Anoth­er essay asked, Is Speed Killing Our Cui­sine?” and was to be assigned to M.F.K. Fish­er. Din­ner Par­ty at our Embassy in Gabon,” would be writ­ten by Mrs. Charles Dar­ling­ton, the wife of a diplo­mat sta­tioned in cen­tral Africa in the 1960s. To keep things culi­nary, Julia Child would con­tribute The End­less Pos­si­bil­i­ties of a Prop­er­ly Poached Chick­en,” and Craig Clai­borne, the famed New York Times food writer, was writ­ing Chefs Don’t Eat What You Eat.” In the ser­vice” sec­tion, the list of pieces includ­ed Is Your Blender Sit­ting on Its Hands?”, The Hot Banana,” and Sour Cream: The Suave Touch.”

If Food & Drink had been born in the late 2000s, it almost cer­tain­ly would have been Lucky Peach—a mas­cu­line-lean­ing, irrev­er­ent, bold-voiced mag­a­zine. Like Lucky Peach, it want­ed to win its audi­ence by run­ning counter to what was expect­ed of a pub­li­ca­tion in its sec­tor. But it was the 1960s, and for what­ev­er rea­son, a con­cept that seemed so smart, edgy, and broad­ly appeal­ing nev­er took off. Per­haps it was due to Benson’s plan to keep the mag­a­zine off news­stands and avail­able only by mail to sub­scribers. Per­haps it was some­thing else. In Cipe’s archives, there is a sin­gle-page typed let­ter from Food & Drinks pres­i­dent and pub­lish­er, James B. Hor­ton, addressed to the magazine’s investors. Food & Drink, Inc., hav­ing no assets, is now con­sid­ered an aban­doned Cor­po­ra­tion,” he wrote, You will notice that we had a cash bal­ance of $109.79 in 1963. This amount has been expend­ed dur­ing the year 1964 on legal fees.”

With that tiny finan­cial con­sid­er­a­tion account­ed for, the promis­ing ven­ture dis­solved, its amaz­ing poten­tial stored in a time cap­sule in Cipe’s files. Hor­ton went on to launch Food & Wine mag­a­zine in the 1970s while act­ing as VP at Play­boy Enter­pris­es, but as we know, it fell in line as a mag­a­zine pri­mar­i­ly for women, home cooks, and enter­tain­ers. Today we have a few oth­er titles that con­jure the spir­it of Food & Drink, but one can only imag­ine what that pub­li­ca­tion would be now, had it come to life and endured for the next half century.

Sarah Rich is a writer based in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia. She is the co-edi­tor of Leave Me Alone with the Recipes: The Life, Art, and Cook­book of Cipe Pine­les. She is a for­mer edi­tor at Dwell, Smith­son­ian, and Medi­um; and co-founder of Long­shot Mag­a­zine and the Food­print Project.