Lucky Peach – A Lucky Mag?

The Lucky Peach ramen issue / http://www.mcsweeneys.net/luckypeach

Just when you thought print journalism was dead, and that magazines in particular were spinning down the drain (such as the venerated Gourmet), Lucky Peach shows up.

So much about the venture – a food-themed quarterly published by McSweeny’s – seems improbable.  The inaugural edition…

  • runs at 174 pages long.
  • contains ZERO advertisements.
  • costs only $10.
  • focuses on ramen noodles.
  • was first conceived of as a TV show, then as an iPad app, before evolving into a print publication.
  • supposedly has an accompanying iPad app – but that could be months away.

How will it attract readers?  Is it financially sustainable?  Will enough people want to purchase a hefty tome and read through nearly 200 pages?  Can it successfully integrate its print and web offerings?  And perhaps most importantly, can it distinguish itself and offer something unique?  Although food magazines are suffering, we’re getting overloaded with heaps of food-related content from websites and bloggers, and much of it quite good.   Long before the ramen issue of Lucky Peach, for example, we had the Rameniac blog.

Of course, some elements clearly indicate that Lucky Peach is headed for success.  The inaugural issue…
  • packs writing, photos, and info-graphics into 17 articles and 22 recipes
  • includes celebrity-writers.
  • offers a striking and unique visual style.
  • presents original reporting and stories.
  • is earning critical acclaim.
I have yet to finish reading the magazine, which I bought at the Echo Park outpost of 826 LA, a tutoring center run by Dave Eggers – the same lit guy who’s behind McSweeny’s.  (It’s also available on the McSweeny’s site and Amazon.)  So expect an update soon with more commentary.  Until then, here’s a sampling of other perspectives:


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