Thursday, 13 February 2014

Kerching! The Fanny Cradock Dream Kitchen

Fanny Cradock is generally seen as the first ever Celebrity TV Cook, but my guess is that most people associate product endorsement, commercialism and sponsorship with 'modern day' celebrity chefs - it's hard to avoid the flurry branded products and cookbooks. But as ever, Fanny was ahead of the game, leading the way and constantly attempting to get the 'ordinary housewife' to buy more and more. Whether it was being paid by the Gas Board to endorse gas cookers or dropping in that dishes featured in photos could be bought at Peter Jones, Fanny was very aware of her commercial appeal. In the partwork she could help you keep up with the Joneses by building up a Dream Kitchen. Not only could you cook like Fanny, but you could live like her too. Sadly ballgowns were never part of the deal.

Fanny Cradock

The weekly partwork was just a vehicle for selling 'more' really - and Fanny tried every trick in the book to hook you in. She branded the weekly magazine series a 'club' and announced that simply by purchasing the partwork you became a club member 'without any fee whatsoever' - in an attempt to make you forget you'd paid 4'6 for the magazine.

That was just the beginning though - Fanny was ever aspirational, and her aim was to convince the housewives of 1970 that the real benefits of being a club 'member' were multiple - by sharing her knowledge and skill week by week Fanny encouraged readers to work towards The Golden Diploma, or Le Diplome d'Or. In order to obtain the diploma you had to write to Fanny and tell her that you'd made at least one dish from every weekly part, and at regular intervals. The first diploma could be yours after the first 16 editions. Each cluster of 16 parts could be housed in a special wipe clean binder that, you've guessed it, could also be purchased from Fanny, at a special rate of course! The fact that couldn't buy it anywhere else was irrelevant I guess. I'm currently on part 6 so have a long way to go, but do I get an enhanced qualification for cooking several things from each part? I've never seen one of Le Diplome d'Or so if you do have one, let me know!

Every week the partwork included special offers that you could send off for - all small kitchen items that could enhance your chances of obtaining the Diploma no doubt. The instructions were to send your money to Fanny WITHOUT any correspondence - she just wanted to take your money and send you the items, not interact with you. I don't know for sure, but I imagine the poor assistants labelling up items, cashing the cheques and popping to the post office regularly. Do you remember having any of these special items in your kitchen at home in the 1970's? How many housewives sent off a cheque or postal order for £2.19.6 (around £28 in today's money, and a saving of £1 at the time!) for the Roman Pot so they could cook a chicken just like Fanny? I saw one in the local charity shop before Christmas...

Fanny refered to special items throughout the parts, and even dedicated entire editions to showcasing 'tools of the trade' that funnily enough you were then enticed to purchase. All sold as a bargain, you were saving money just because you were 'in the Cradock Cookery Club'. Each week she sent you a Bonus Voucher that you were to collect up to help you fulfil the ultimate dream - to have larger aspirational kitchen items endorsed by Fanny that would transform your kitchen into the Fanny Cradock Dream Kitchen. The idea was that you had to collect all 96 bonus vouchers before you could redeem them. Who could resist the lure of the shiny products at reduced prices, only with the bonus vouchers of course. The partwork sadly ceased publication after 80 editions, so I wonder if any Club Members ever got their hands on the Fanny Cradock cooker or Mixer? Did you?


  1. Hehe - that's my Kenwood Chef, except my fittings are pale blue. I inherited it from my granny! Love it! Vohn x

    1. I bet it still works like a dream too! Thanks...