When The New York Times announced in the fall of 1989 that it was going to stop its annual reprinting of food writer Marian Burros’ recipe for Purple Plum Torte, the newspaper received a torrent of letters. That’s because the story of the paper’s most requested recipe ever was written at a time when print, and letter-writing, were still key media ingredients.
The recipe appeared for the first time Sept. 21, 1983. As writer Margaux Laskey writes this week, given the simplicity and casual mention of the dish at the end of a column, its popularity was unexpected:
The newspaper received so many requests for the recipe that the editors decided to reprint it the following year, and the next, and each subsequent year until they decided it was time to put an end to the madness. In 1989, they ran an updated version (three-quarters of a cup of sugar, rather than a full cup) with a broken-line border, encouraging readers to cut it out, laminate it and save it.Ms. Burros wrote: “This could really be the last time we print the recipe. Really!”
In the Laskey item comments, there is some fun feedback from some readers about another waning aspect of all this: the newspaper clipping. A Princeton, N.J. reader writes that her mother still has the ‘browning newspaper clipping from 1983;’ another New Jersey reader says they continue to rely on their ‘yellowed 1983 copy’ of the original recipe.
For the article, Laskey also caught up with Burros, who is now retired. There is companion piece offering five variations on the famous dish, which has become something of a Rosh Hashanah favorite.
Screen grab via: nytimes.com