• A (Quick) Tour of Better Homes & Gardens

    November 14, 2012

    My trip to Des Moines was a total whirlwind. I arrived at 6:30 PM on Sunday night and headed back to Boston at 5:30 PM on Monday evening. I wasn’t even there for a full 24 hours, but I got to see and learn a lot in that short amount of time. Let’s recap!

    On Monday morning, we headed to the Meredith Corporation in Des Moines. Meredith produces a number of magazines, including Better Homes & Gardens, Fitness, Ladies Home Journal, More, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Eating Well, Parents, Traditional Home, and many more. Meredith also has a location in New York City.

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    Once we got settled, a small group of us (anyone who had never visited before) received a quick tour of the Meredith campus.

    The tour started with a visit to the “Plantoir,” which was purchased by the Meredith Corporation to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2002. The Plantoir was once displayed in an exhibition at the roof-top garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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    Our next stop was to see copies of the corporation’s very first publications, which included Successful Farming in 1920 and Better Homes & Gardens in 1924.

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    Check out the first Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook! We were told it was once wrapped in a red plain tablecloth and photographed, and it’s been marketed that way every since. You’ve seen the red plaid cookbook, right? I think almost everyone in America owns a copy!

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    Our tour then led us to the Executive Board room, which is also known as the “Mad Men room” by some Meredith employees.

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    Inside was a chair given to E.T. Meredith, the founder of the Meredith Corporation, in Washington, DC while serving as Secretary of Agriculture under President Woodrow Wilson in February 1920. Neat, right?

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    Then, we headed to the Wood Shop. A wood shop in a magazine office? Oh, yes.

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    Meredith also publishes a magazine called Wood. I had never heard of it until the tour, but it’s one of corporation’s most successful publications. It’s been profitable since the very beginning and its readership is very enthusiastic. (Did anyone just think of Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec? I couldn’t help but think of him during this part of the tour.)

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    All of the tools, patterns, and furniture featured in the magazine are tested in the Wood Shop.

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    There were gorgeous pieces of wood furniture all over the Meredith offices.

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    After seeing the Wood Shop, we headed downstairs to the photo studio, which was a massive space. There were multiple photo shoots going on at once.

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    That’s a pretty shot!

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    There were props everywhere!

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    Each magazine has their own cage of props.

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    All of the recipes featured are first tested in the Test Kitchen and then made again (with all real food – no Elmer’s glue for milk) for the photo shoot.

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    And, finally, our tour took us to the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden, which was in winter mode, but still pretty to see.

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    I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in the warmer months!

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    Questions of the Day

    What’s your favorite health/fitness magazine?

    What’s your favorite food magazine?

    What’s your favorite fashion/decorating/lifestyle magazine?

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    { 48 comments… read them below or add one }

    Michelle @ oats n' bows November 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

    That seriously looks like the most fun museum ever! At least to me haha. It’s so amazing to see all of the work that goes into something that seems so trivial to us on a day to day. I love Better Home & Gardens as well 🙂 It’s just all around visually pleasing!


    NYC Fit GIrl November 14, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Looks like such a fun trip!! I actually read better homes and garden so I am slightly jealous!


    GreenGirlRunning November 14, 2012 at 11:17 am

    That looks like fun, and so interesting! Favorite sort of all around mag is Sunset. Love that magazine! I get great home ideas and food.


    natalie @ will jog for food November 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

    How fun! That is definitely a “Mad Men” room 🙂

    I love Everyday with Rachael Ray and Cooking Light!


    Sarah November 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

    This sounds like an awesome trip! I love looking at the inside of “homes” so this would be totally fun!


    Laura @ LauraLikesDesign November 14, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Whoa, this was so awesome to get an inside look of Meredith! As a graphic designer, I would love to visit this place some day!


    Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes November 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Wow, great pictures, Tina! My favorite health and wellness magazines include Women’s Health, Fitness, Self, Runner’s World, and I just recently discovered Triathlete magazine, which is my new current obsession. 😉


    Hillary {Nutrition Nut on the Run} November 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

    How neat to go behind the scenes! I would love to go behind the scenes of Fitness or Women’s Health… or Whole Living, mmm!


    Amanda @ Eat More Rabbit Food November 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

    What a fun tour! It’s so interesting to see all the work that goes into a magazine!


    Amy M November 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I just discovered a favorite magazine — Mental Floss! Fits in perfectly with my nerdy love of trivia! The website is also really fun and has great quizzes (Guess Which One: Ripped from the Headlines or Scooby Doo plotline?)


    Katie November 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I love Claes Oldenburg! So cool, right?


    Kristen @ Change of Pace November 14, 2012 at 11:38 am

    That looks like so much fun! I love Whole Living for sure 🙂


    Candice@allthingsyogi.com November 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I would love to work for Meredith someday!

    My favorite fitness magazine is Women’s Heath because of the plethora of doctors and specialists that contribute to the articles.


    Nicole@ livingthesweetlifestl.wordpress.com November 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

    My favorite health and fitness magazine is: Self
    My favorite food magazine is: Cooking Light
    My favorite fashion magazine is: Glamor
    I also love Fortune magazine.


    Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit November 14, 2012 at 11:48 am

    How cool! 😀 Better Homes & Gardens is actually one of my favorite magazines. I’m not that gifted in the home decor department so I need all the help & ideas I can get. 😉


    Jess@atasteofconfidence November 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

    So cool. How I would love to work there.


    Jolynn November 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

    How fun! Fave health and fitness: Oxygen or Muscle and Fit Hers. Fave food: Clean Eating. Fave decorating: Better Homes and Garden.


    Becky November 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Your trip looked like SO. MUCH. FUN! I am originally from the DSM area and I’m a little jealous of your 23 hours in central Iowa 🙂 My favorite magazine overall is probably Food and Wine – They have great recipe and wine recommendations! I have yet to find a fitness magazine that I love. Do you have any good recommendations for fitness reads??


    Tina November 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Health, Fitness, Oxygen, Woman’s Health, Men’s Health, Shape, Runner’s World, Men’s Fitness


    Grace @ Grace Dishes November 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I love the behind the scenes tour! I love all magazines but health/fitness I really like Shape or Women’s Health Mag.

    Food Magazine – I like Cooking Light

    Fashion/Lifestyle – Instyle, Glamour, Allure… ALL OF IT 🙂


    Haley @ The Saucy Apple November 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    It’s a photo-palooza! I love that you took us along for the tour. 🙂 It’s hard for me to choose a favorite magazine in each category because I love how magazines have a unique character. If I could only read 3 magazine subscriptions for the rest of my life though (*gasp*), they would be Women’s Health, the Food Network Magazine, and Real Simple.

    Now, I feel like a bad mother who just admitted she had a favorite child…


    Claire @ Keeping Up With Claire November 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    This is SO cool! As a journalism major and after working in the industry, I still can never get over how cool magazines, tv stations, and newspaper offices can be on the inside. I LOVE pretty much every health and fitness magazine, but if I had to pick I would say Women’s Health of Fitness magazine. Health is up there too!


    Eating 4 Balance November 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I really like Living Without because it has some great allergy-free food tips. Otherwise, Health and Fitness Magazine are my favorites. Better Homes and Gardens is what we use for special occasion inspiration! 🙂 Eating Well is my favorite all-around food magazine.

    That is so cool that you got to visit there!


    Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) November 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Clean Eating magazine is my favorite – hands down! I also like whole living and Rachael Ray’s magazine


    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats November 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    How cool! I didn’t know they had so much history, or so many magazines! Haha and I’ve never heard of Wood, I wonder who reads it!?!? My favorite magazines are Marie Claire and Runners World, gotta have a little of both worlds!


    Eryn November 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I love Better Homes and Gardens, and Fitness! Those are my two favorite magazines. What an experience to see first hand how they put them together!


    Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio November 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    So cool!! Can’t even imagine having that many props for a blog photo shoot.


    Anne November 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    That’s so cool! Eating well is by far one of my favorite magazines!!


    JIll November 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I get Better Home and gardens, Taste of Home and Women’s Health! Luv them all


    Amy November 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Eating Well is BY FAR my second fave magazine (Real Simple is first) – much more useful than Cooking Light and gorgeous photography!


    Annette@FitnessPerks November 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    That DOES look like a fun trip! My fav fitness mag is probably oxygen.


    Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction November 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    What a fun trip! My favorite fitness magazine is Womens Health or Shape.


    Deidre Skrudland November 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Looks like a fun trip!

    I absolutely love Runner’s World and Running Time. I don’t have any particular decorating magazine that I like or food magazine. I do love Practical Paleo though! Some of the suggestions from the others are super helpful, I’ll have to check them out!!


    Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution November 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    My favorite fitness magazine is by FAR Oxygen, because it’s TRULY a fitness magazine. Most fitness magazines geared toward women are just fashion magazines in disguise.

    My favorite food magazine is Eating Well. Real Simple is my favorite, favorite magazine.


    Steph @pjsandyogapants November 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I think Ron Swanson definitely reads Wood magazine. LOL

    I love Whole Living, Oxygen and Vogue 🙂


    Tina November 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    My Favorite fitness magazines are: Shape, Women’s Health, Runners’ World
    My Favorite Food Magazine is: Vegetarian Times
    My Favorite fashion/decorating/lifestyle magazine are: Vogue, Better Homes and Garden.

    Tina 🙂


    Lara November 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    So much fun. I’ve visited the Meredith headquarters before too. It’s so neat there. I love the prop cages. I could spend all day there.


    Wendy Irene November 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I loved seeing the pictures, Tina! My favorite magazines are Country Living, Mountain Living, and OPRAH!
    Have a great day 🙂


    kristle November 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    i’ve really been getting away from womens magazines as of late. i read through my glamour and fitness when it comes, but immediately donate them then. i think it’s a healthy step when striving for positive self acceptance. i probably won’t renew, my main mag these days is the wonderful VegNews! for fashion, food, culture, anything 🙂


    Jodea @ chillichocolatelove.blogspot November 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I love Fitness magazine, but we can’t get it easily in the UK. However, as I got an iPad for my birthday I was able to subscribe 😀

    I’m not really in to food magazines, I tend to use the internet or cookbooks. That said, I do sneak a peek at my mum’s Good Housekeeping magazine! I’m so jealous of your trip. I’d love to work for a magazine. It looks so cool there!


    Luanne November 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    So jealous that you got to spend the day at the Meredith offices! Growing up in Iowa, my dream job was to work at one of their magazines! I now market auto parts for a living, but still dream of writing full-time. Favorite magazines? Self, Health and Better Homes and Gardens.


    Christina November 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    My favorite fitness magazine is runners world and my favorite magazine of all time is the Economist. Its the inner political science nerd in me. Looks like you had a lot of fun.


    BroccoliHut November 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    My husband makes fun of my magazine obsession–I have a lot of subscriptions going these days. I love Clean Eating, Women’s Health, and HGTV Magazine.


    Hillary of GRAS Pizza November 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Cooking Light – it is so simple and easy to understand.


    Adrianna November 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    women’s health, Marie Claire, cooking light.

    so true about Ron Swanson…I thought the exact same thing, ha!


    Monica November 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    So cool!! My inner domestic goddess is totally jealous! Safe travels!


    Colleen @ What's Baking in the Barbershop?! November 15, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I LOVE that you got to do this! So cool!!


    Michelle (The Runner's Plate) November 21, 2012 at 12:43 am

    My parents used to get (and probably still do) Successful Farming!!


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