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Emails We Love: America’s Test Kitchen Hits the Right Notes

By Jun 05, 2012

Like many home cooks, my recipe box no longer resides on my kitchen counter. It's in my laptop, or my iPad, or my phone.

That's why I'm pretty much always keen to find a new enewsletter full of good recipes, such as America's Test Kitchen's weekly "Test Kitchen Notes." I signed up for the newsletter about a month ago, when I accepted an offer to receive a free trial print issue of Cook's Illustrated.

While I'm still waiting for that to arrive, the weekly "Notes" emails are a great ambassador for the brand. Each issue delivers a themed variety of content showcasing what America's Test Kitchen offers, with a design that is refined yet laid back in a way befitting of the company's Boston-area roots.

The emails do a great job of promoting the many arms of the brand, from the website to the magazine to the PBS television show, with a link connecting the reader to an archive of recent episodes. Social media links and forward to a friend links are also prominent.

One recent issue tied together a week's worth of Mexican-inspired dishes with a snippet showing chefs researching what types of cheese melt best—a nice subtle plug for an upcoming book on comfort foods. And, a link to a mac and cheese recipe is also included. Tips and reviews—on everything from canned black beans to ice crushers—round out the issue, which also features a prominent plug for that trial print issue (still waiting…).

Even more laid back was the graphics-free/text only "Letter from Vermont" letter from America's Test Kitchen founder Christopher Kimball that hit my inbox at the end of May. Addressed to "Dear Home Cook" (well, yeah, I guess that's me. I've been called worse), the email goes on chattily about dinner parties and a preponderance of bears in the local woods and a friend losing a pumpkin crop due to flooding and quotes from Calvin Coolidge. Sandwiched in all this folksiness is a plug for the free trial issue (nope, not here yet…) and an iPad app. A soft sell on both accounts.

Because these emails are so good, the more hard-sell messages from Cook's Illustrated almost seem like an intrusion in my inbox. They're not badly done, but subject lines like  "Save 50% on The Best Light Recipe " seem so impersonal after reading Kimball's musings on Vermont moonlight.

Still, America's Test Kitchen has earned a place in my kitchen. Are there any cooking-related email campaigns you love? Let me know at beth.negus@penton.com

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