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  1. #1
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    Polk County, Florida
    Saddest Book Ever Written? Really?
    Have you seen the joke going around the Internet claiming that this book is the Saddest Book Ever Written?

    It all started innocently enough when Tony Carrillo who has a syndicated cartoon called F Minus, had this to say on his blog on March 22:

    I was browsing in a bookstore when I came across this downer. I couldn't stop laughing. This might be the most depressing book I have ever seen. I was going to buy it, but I thought some sad old lady might need to buy it.

    But I have to wonder, is all that food for her? They should re-title it, Cooking for the Family in Your Head.

    Saddest Book Ever
    The blog post was picked up by Fark and traffic to the website for the book and the number of fans at the Facebook Page started to grow.

    Then that Saturday, March 27, Bill Weir claimed that he had found the "saddest book ever written" on Good Morning America, saying:

    You know, now that Oprah is quitting, I'm thinking about starting the News You Missed Book Club and I was cruising Amazon for our first selection, and I may have found the saddest book ever written, Microwave Cooking for One. Let's all read it and meet back here in a couple of weeks to discuss and then kill ourselves.

    Video Link
    Things started to die down, when it started all over again on April 5. This time it was SF Weekly continuing the meme on its SFoodie blog:

    Let's make one thing clear: there's nothing wrong with eating alone. We do it all the time, not just out of necessity but because sometimes it's nice to enjoy a meal in solitude. As for microwave cooking, well, sometimes you're in a hurry and those Trader Joe's veggie corn dogs ARE pretty good.

    But we wouldn't go so far as Marie T. Smith and cook what might be steak and whatever that glass of Jell-O is, in a microwave. And while we're sure Marie is probably actually a very happy lady, we're going to have to blame the photographer for producing such a pained portrait.

    Is there someone standing off to the side with a gun, demanding that Marie hover over that microwave produced buffet of pastel-colored food? At any rate, what we have on our hands is the Saddest Cookbook Ever: Microwaving For One.

    Pic of the Day: Saddest Cookbook Ever
    This time around it became one of the most dugg stories on Digg and was also posted on reddit and The Consumerist.

    It's a new week and has it stopped? Nope. On April 10 Serious Eats picked it up from Reddit because they seemed to have been amused by one of the comments:

    The folks at Reddit dig up "the world's saddest cookbook," titled Microwave Cooking for One. Says one commenter:

    When my parents were dating, and starting to get serious, my dad got this book for my mom for her birthday. In typical engineer logic he explained that, since she was living on her own at the time, it would obviously be useful. It's amazing how many times I came close to not existing.
    The World's Saddest Cookbook
    And who picked that one up? The Huffington Post! Imagine my surprise when I visited a political news website and found it going on there.

    Okay, so by now you're wondering why I'm going on and on about this. I'll tell you. Just read my response to the SF Weekly version of the meme:

    Tracy Grant says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for the plug and how much I appreciate all the traffic to our website and Facebook Fan Page your post has generated. Please know I appreciate the humor, but feel obligated to add some clarification for your readers.

    The woman on the cover and author of the book is my mother. She spent 10 years developing and kitchen testing the almost 300 recipes. She died in 1987, two years after she enjoyed seeing her labor of love published. Mom developed the book because she foresaw that we would become a society of smaller households (one or two people), especially when the baby-boomers' children grew up and left the nest. Over thirty years ago, my Mother believed that there would be a need for this type of book years into the future. It is a testament to her foresight that Microwave Cooking for One is still in print after 24 years, when other microwave cookbooks from that era have long been out of print.

    Most recipes are written for four or six. Have you ever tried to take a recipe for six, and divide by three to make a meal for two? It doesn't come out right. However, if you start with a recipe for one from Mom's book and double it, you can easily make a delicious meal for two ... and fast in the microwave.

    I invite your readers to go to the Contents & Recipes section and try doubling a few of the recipes, and then tell me how sad my mother's book is. The stuffed shrimp recipe is absolutely delicious!

    People from all walks of life and for a myriad of reasons live alone. Microwave Cooking for One was my mother's gift to them to help make their lives better. At the time Microwave Cooking for One was published in 1986, Mom was volunteering for an organization that worked with displaced homemakers; women who for a variety of reasons, found themselves alone after years of caring for their families. She felt strongly that food is the center of life, and that these newly single women deserved to take care of themselves as they had for others for so many years. So she invited these women into her home and gave them an all-day microwave cooking class, teaching them 30 basic microwave recipes.

    I understand how people who have never lived alone can look at the title of the book and laugh. But the truth is that whether by choice or circumstance there are a lot of people in our society who are faced with the task of cooking just for themselves. Microwave Cooking for One is the tool they need to conveniently prepare healthy meals fast and economically.

    Thank you, again, for your "Saddest Cookbook Ever" award. While those readers in relationships may laugh in relief that this book is not for them (although it easily could be ... just multiply the recipes), I'm sure many people who can use the book have found it. I am sincerely grateful!
    I've been promoting this book with the website for almost 10 years now. Of course my dream has always been for it to get a lot of exposure. If only I knew 10 years ago that using humor would get my mother's book noticed this much, I would have gone that route a long time ago.

    One thing I have learned from this experience ... plagiarism is rampant on the Internet, and I will always be eternally grateful to the humor of Tony Carrillo for starting this. And let this be a lesson for others: humor is a great way to get noticed.

  2. #2
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    Land of The NFL Champs!
    What is truly sad is the need to find humor via humiliation of other actual people. Yes, that lady is somebody's mother, just like that person made a laughingstock on some reality TV show is someone's son or daughter.
    This World is Not My Home
    We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. . . And then we're gonna go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline! Quotes from the movie Rudy, 1993

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador leeann's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    I can't believe Bill Weir said he found the book. It is perfectly acceptable to reference a blog these days. What a jerk. Neat story Tracy. I'm pretty sure your mother would be thrilled with the attention. BTW.. Your response was great!

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    January 7th, 2006
    Houston, TX
    I get the humor, and if I were in a certain mood, I'd probably actually laugh at the jokes (my humor tends to run black sometimes ). But the book isn't *that* sad-funny. And I don't think making fun of the author is the best way to get a laugh out of it... making fun of the subject matter is. I know, I know - lots of people live alone for many reasons... but that doesn't mean we can't get a good-natured chuckle out of it. Not all jokes about a person or culture have to be mean. I really think that we're in an era now where any jokes at anyone else's expense are automatically thought of as attacks... and I disagree with that. People, in general, need to lighten up. Do we, as a culture, have such low self-esteem that people can't make any jokes about us? (whatever you do, don't go to if you're sensitive to making fun of people in our society)

    So, I don't think that there's any comedy to be found in making fun of the author... but I do think there is great comedy to be found in making fun of most people that go on reality TV shows. Whole different situation
    Daniel M. Clark
    Tech Manager
    Greg Hoffman Consulting

  5. #5
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    Polk County, Florida
    Quote Originally Posted by leeann View Post
    I can't believe Bill Weir said he found the book. It is perfectly acceptable to reference a blog these days. What a jerk. Neat story Tracy. I'm pretty sure your mother would be thrilled with the attention. BTW.. Your response was great!
    Thank you, Leeann. I agree that Bill Weir should have given credit to Tony, but he took some heat for his comments at the GMA page for his bio. I'm pretty sure that they didn't even post all the comments, because I tried to reply and mine never was posted. But, the ones that did get posted reamed him for making a joke of "being alone" and the "suicide" comment.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    January 17th, 2005
    Wow, your mom looks remarkably like my 4th grade teacher! I did a double take.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

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