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Sandra Lee, Academically
Thursday, May 31, 2007 | posted by Mike

You know how I like to take a "serious" look at food TV every once in a while. That's a product of nearly six straight years of academic training in the social sciences. And, yes, there are two degrees involved...I wasn't on the Bluto Blutarsky plan.

And so I'd like to take a moment to point you toward an article about an academic conference, the 76th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, taking place this week in Canada. Among the many topics covered at the conference will be food and popular culture. One paper, written by a Ryerson University (Ned Ryerseon?!?) grad student Sarah Kornik, examines one of our favorite topics, Sandra Lee.

Still, she argues in her paper Nostalgia: Eating the American Dream, there is inherent nostalgia in the host's name, with a reference to Sara Lee products: "Like the show itself, the name suggests the nostalgia for home and comfort through baked goods while retaining a processed presence."


But some of these homecooking claims may be no more than an illusion, says Ms. Kornik, who has been watching the Food Network since she was 13. She offers the example of Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, which is purported to be a home-cooking show.

The problem, Ms. Kornik says, is that the show features many recipes that recommend certain store-bought items and as a result it is transformed into "a half-hour advertisement for the packaged products incorporated into the recipes."

Ouch! That's pretty harsh language from someone in a field where they usually deal in coefficients of imbalance and regression analyses. Usually we just make fun of her for using Duncan Hines frosting. Maybe that's why we don't have our Ph.D.

The nostalgia angle is certainly a big part of the allure of these shows, and in particular the appeal of folks like Paula Deen, Ina Garten and Lidia Bastianich, who don't fit the typical "television" profile as much as they embody the maternal provider that we all wish would keep cooking for us. We'll probably have a lot more to say on this topic if we can track down the paper on the InterGoogle.

Yippee...time for another TVFF Quiz: The two comedy movie references in the first two paragraphs have something in common with one another. What are the two movies and what is their connection? As always, the first person with the answer in the comments will win themselves the envy of TVFF Nation by being mentioned in a post next week. In other words: Sometimes winning is its own reward.



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