The Weird, Wild, Wonderful World of Food ‘Zines

image via the Urban Craft Center

The blogosphere seems downright sedate when you see what’s going on with zines.

For the uninitiated, a zine is a small circulation, independently produced publication. It can be a hand-drawn masterpiece or a crudely photocopied manifesto. The time and materials needed are seldom matched by sales revenue, but profit is rarely the goal of these labors of love. 1,000 copies at $3.00 apiece would be a pretty big deal to most zine publishers.

Zine publishers relish their outsider status. They opt to explore stories and employ narrative motifs that are ignored by the traditional food media. The content might be controversial or sexual, or its theme might be obsessively focused on a single, arcane subject. Publications like Veganarchy (a zine for anarchists who happen to be vegans, and vice versa), Big Hands (the goings-on in a 24-hour doughnut shop in Bloomington, Indiana), and Burritos are Tasty (you get it) probably will never reach broad, mainstream audiences, but hey, that’s not what they’re aiming for anyway, although there are a few (Boing Boing, Bust, Bitch) that have crossed over.

A zine is a DIY publishing event.

These days, when every ninny with an internet connection and a Blogger account is a publisher, zines remain scrappy and lo-fi; resolutely imperfect, unpolished little gems. The writing is  feisty and original, and the lack of spell-checking is made up in passion and exuberance.

Herding Cats.

Zines tend to come and go, volumes can appear at irregular intervals, and print runs are small. There are no traditional review sources or conventional distributors. Retail efforts are pretty much limited to the flier racks at independent booksellers and indie record outlets, ads in the back of other zines, and swap meet-like ‘zine fests’.

The best plan of attack is to find a food zine you like and network it from there through the ads it carries for other zines, and through the creator or publisher’s website. There are also meta-zines that exist to review other zines, but of course you still have to locate one of those.

Here are some links to get you started:

Metazines Broken Pencil, Alternative Press Review, and Fact Sheet 5 all publish zine reviews and other windows on the world of independent media.

Recommended zines (I’ll keep my fingers crossed for availability):

Snack Bar Confidential is a fun and kitschy visit to the golden age of snack food from a writer with a fascination for the advertising and packaging of the ’60s and ’70s.

Gastrolater digs deeply into food and pop culture with intelligent, personal meditations.

Coffee Shop Crushes explores the private interactions and unrequited loves of baristas and their customers.

Each issue of Last Supper tackles a specific theme– an ingredient, a holiday, a technique, or a broader social issue. Writers and visual artists are paired to create a submission combining a dish, a drawing, a recipe, and a personal reflection.

Also helpful: Writer Action Girl (zinesters love nicknames) has tips on ordering etiquette on the House of Fun website like the helpful hint to always send cash– bank accounts are rare in zine circles– but not a lot of change because it jams up the post office machines.


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2 Responses to The Weird, Wild, Wonderful World of Food ‘Zines

  1. MD5 says:

    Thanks, I always love a good read.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Food 'Zines:A Weird, Wild, Wonderful World | Gigabiting --

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