Longtime readers of Food & Wine magazine–or at least subscribers since last May–might have done a double-take when the May 2011 issue arrived in their mailboxes. The cover’s cobalt blue plate, lighter blue tablecloth and glass of Pinot Noir in nearly the same placement appeared on the May 2010 issue too.
But it’s more than just the colors of these elements that are making a repeat appearance. The composition, the blurbs (at least generally) and even more colors look so familiar, the May 2010 cover immediately came to mind when I saw the latest issue.
Last year, I wrote about how the May issues of Food & Wine and Vegetarian Times magazine were nearly identical (though their content remained very distinct). But this year, the food and wine pairing authority duplicated itself, making this cover seem like its go-to vintage.
Of course, if you look closely, there are some differences. Though the plates are both cobalt blue, the May 2010 issue has a lighter blue, almost turquoise rim. And speaking of lighter blue, last year’s version is a checkered tablecloth where May 2011′s is a solid color that’s a couple of shades lighter than the dark blue plate.
The premium entrees are different: grilled chicken tacos on the May 2010 cover and Andrew Zimmern’s chicken yakitori basted with fresh ginger juice on the current one. But the glass of Pinot Noir (which appears brighter on the 2011 cover thanks to some lighting on the set) adds another familiar element to both. Not to mention the masthead at the top is nearly the same shade of bright yellow.
Because both are the annual travel issue, similarities in the cover blurbs are bound to happen. 2011 boasts the “World’s Greatest Dishes Made Easy” and “Discovering Fantastic Pinot Noir.” Last year’s cover promised “Chefs’ Classics Made Easy” and “Insider’s Guide to Great Wine Deals.”
Even with all the similarities, I’d give the edge to this year’s May issue. The lighting adds a sort of shine that makes everything “pop” off the page, the skewers on the plate lend an eye-catching angle and the yellow from the masthead that’s repeated in the cover blurbs makes them stand out.
Overall, it’s a step up from the May 2010 cover that’s a little darker and busier, and its teaser colors get lost in the background. But as similar as the two are, it’s worth wondering whether the editors were aiming for a do-over of last year, or if in all the planning and options put together for each of the dozen covers in between, they simply didn’t realize how close they came to a near repeat.