Eat This. Sassy Magazine Said So.

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on January 16, 2012

When Sassy magazine folded in 1994*, there wasn’t an immediate outpouring of cultural loss like the mass eulogies honoring the end of LIFE magazine’s run in 2000. Understandable but depressing just the same for those of us for whom Sassy was a lifeline and a pipeline.

Sassy September 1992
In the decades since its confusing and stil-too-untimely demise, the tide has shifted. Copious articles, books (How Sassy Changed My Life), blogs, and even live tribute performances have dissected the importance of Sassy, posthumously recognizing it as the smart, irreverent, and generation-defining voice that it was. These pieces have said it well and I won’t repeat their words, but suffice to say, if you’re in awe of the work produced by a clever and intelligent twenty- or thirty-something woman today, chances are you have Sassy‘s influence to thank.

Certain pages from the magazine** remain Xeroxed in my mind—young Angelina Jolie and Amy Smart as models; the great junk food taste off; “daggy;” the pillowcase dress; the skirt made from ties; Chlöe Sevigny in her self-sewn hat, overalls, and nose ring; the Kurt and Courtney issue; excerpts from Blake Nelson’s Girl; Tom Maginnis as the only member of Buffalo Tom singled out in “Cute Band Alert;” Mayim Bialik wearing an American flag turban; Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket as “One to Watch”—and two recipes: Evan Dando’s chocolate sauce and Sonic Youth’s tuna fish tacos.

Yes, from February 1992 to March 1993, Sassy‘s last page was devoted to the column “Eat This,” which featured recipes and the stories behind them from staffers and whatever celebrities they could coerce into contributing. In keeping with the magazine’s “diet is a dirty word” editorial philosophy, the recipes weren’t accompanied by any notes on how low-fat or waist-whittling they were; though Andrea L.’s Bachelorette Chicken, Kim France’s shrimp kabobs, and Noel’s pasta primavera can all be deemed “good for you,” that’s not the point of sharing the recipes. And their relative healthiness is more than offset by Margie’s hamantaschen and Christina & Mike’s real-butter-and-whole-milk mashed potatoes.

Evan Dando, Sassy Magazine
I confess that I never made a single recipe from the column. I read every word religiously, can still remember that Evan Dando called his recipe “Morning Noonan Knight Sauce” because he wanted Polly Noonan to marry Ted Knight and have a child named Morning, but never actually tried any of the dishes. Even though my kitchen experimentation didn’t start in earnest until college, I feel I can still credit Sassy for supporting the idea that cooking is fun, easy, and cool, not something that should be weighed down by ideas of calorie counts and ingredient shame. And if Kim Gordon wants to make a taco that’s spread with butter, then hot damn, I want to eat that too.

When Danielle and I were conceptualizing Good. Food. Stories. in 2009, one of the lines in our original mission statement was “we were blessedly lucky to make it to college without developing or even encountering a lot of the food hang-ups that plague a lot of ladies of our generation.” We just wanted to share the enjoyment of eating well, not just subsisting on deli salads with balsamic dressing to maintain a figure. Given that nearly every page of the magazine is still burned into my brain, I’d like to give another hand to Sassy for perpetuating that healthy image.

The (almost) complete lineup of “Eat This” columns appears below—my October 1992 issue is lost to the ages, I’m sad to say, and a few recipes are missing photos that I clipped for use in collages or to wallpaper my bedroom. (I had quite the thing for the Beastie Boys and Spike Jonze, so I’m sorry that you won’t see Mike D and Spike’s mugs posing with their carrot cake.) Click on any of the thumbnail images below to see a larger version.

Although Sassy published issues from 1995-1996, they weren’t produced under the same Jane Pratt-led staff; most consider the November 1994, the last under Jane & Co, to be the final issue of the magazine. In 1996, the magazine was incorporated into Teen magazine and really, definitively, truly ceased to exist.

And if you scroll down to the “Who Would You Elect First Lady?” article on the linked post and read the answer from Jason, 15, you’ll notice the name of yours truly. I was a Sassy intern for one brief, shining week in August 1992 and this piece is my first mention in a national print publication. We all gotta start somewhere.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

sarah henry January 22, 2012 at 10:26 am

Loved this look into a magazine I didn’t know — and, equally, some insight into your youth, Casey. So glad you made it through those vulnerable years with a healthy attitude towards food.


Jen January 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Oh, it’s a retrospective from my high school years! Nearly a decade later, when I was listing things on my wedding registry, I remembered Christina’s and Mike’s advice about the proper potato masher and chose accordingly. That masher and the advice have served me well.


Casey Barber January 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Jen, I love that story! Sassy was so educational in SO many ways….


Karen January 25, 2012 at 9:26 am

My high school boy-crush and I made the Morning Noonan Knight sauce. It was…well, to be blunt, disgusting. But it solidified our love of Evan Dando and the Lemonheads nonetheless, and my boy-crush turned into an actual boyfriend, so thanks, Sassy!


Casey Barber January 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Karen, I admit that after reading the recipe for the first time since I was a novice cook, I realized Dando’s recipe wouldn’t really work. I want to revamp it – but that’s for another post!


Christine Galanti Christine Galanti January 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm

You were an intern-for-a-week at Sassy?! I hope that’s still on your resume!

I should be writing a tween-flick-for-adults about you.


Bellesouth February 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Oh, this is awesome! I just wrote a post about Sassy yesterday and included the entire recipe for Cat Burritos. It was from a page you may remember that had all the Sassy archives online. I’ll just link back here!


Bellesouth February 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm

BTW, I hope someone out there has the ‘Eat This’ with the Elvis recipes.


Casey Barber February 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Oh yeah, the Elvis recipes! I was 100 percent sure I had that issue, but it might have been sacrificed for a collage. I’ll have to look through the stash again!


Bellesouth February 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm

The Elvis slippers from that issue ended up in collage form.

Ha-ha, look what I just found!


SB June 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Oh, the cooking section of Sassy was my favorite part of the magazine! Evan Dando’s Morning Noonan Knight sauce was one of the first recipes I made on my own…and I still use it today. Thanks for posting all of these food pages…brought back a ton of awesome memories.


Lynn Chen July 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm

So deeply relate to this – there are articles forever seered into my subconscious…


Tabitha C. October 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I loved Sassy and I actually still have the recipe for the carrot cake…and I still have the physical copy scanned. Let me know if you want it with the beautiful faces still intact. :)


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