The Oklahoma Oprah: Pioneer Woman adds magazine to homespun empire

Jennifer Cohron
Posted 6/30/17

Ree Drummond and I have nothing in common. Maybe that’s why I am so fascinated with her.

When I picked up her book “Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels — A Love Story” several years ago, I was totally unaware of her blog, which …

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The Oklahoma Oprah: Pioneer Woman adds magazine to homespun empire

Posted

Ree Drummond and I have nothing in common. Maybe that’s why I am so fascinated with her.

When I picked up her book “Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels — A Love Story” several years ago, I was totally unaware of her blog, which was being read by over four million people a month, or her successful debut cookbook, “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.”

Once I became acquainted with her brand, I saw it everywhere — a Food Network show, a line of cookware, a series of children’s books.

Now she has her own self-titled magazine. After the debut issue’s initial run of almost 150,000 copies nearly sold out in the first week, 100,000 more were printed.

I felt like a fraud as I stood in the Walmart aisle this weekend flipping through articles of no interest to me — beauty, fashion, home decorating.

And yet I bought the magazine.

Such is the power of the Pioneer Woman.

“The Pioneer Woman is like an artifact from a more wholesome era: Ozzie and Harriet on a ranch,” The New Yorker wrote of Drummond in 2011.

Like Oprah Winfrey before her, Drummond has succeeded by selling herself as an Everywoman who just happens to be rich and famous.

Drummond was born into an affluent family in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She lived in southern California during her college years and was contemplating a move to Chicago when she met Ladd “Marlboro Man” Drummond.

The two were married, settled on Marlboro Man’s ranch in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and had four babies in eight years.

In 2006, Drummond started a blog called Confessions of a Pioneer Woman that was named Best Kept Secret Weblog at the Seventh Annual Weblog Awards in 2007.

In 2009, the blog beat out FiveThirtyEight and The Huffington Post for Weblog of the Year.

By that time, Drummond had started posting the recipes that quickly made her a fan favorite and earned her a cookbook deal.

Drummond now has three cookbooks to her credit as well as three children’s books centered on the family’s late ranch dog, a Basset Hound named Charlie.

She also has her own cooking show, which debuted on Food Network in 2011; The Mercantile, a restaurant and retail store that opened in Pawhuska in 2016; her own product line launched through Walmart in 2015 and the aforementioned magazine, which hit stands June 6.

On her blog, Drummond says she spends her days “wrangling children, chipping dried manure from boots, washing jeans and making gravy.”

In her spare time, she makes money, and some real-life country gals have resented that fact for a while now.

In 2010, one female farm blogger called out Drummond for renovating her guest house during the recession when other ranchers were just trying to keep the bills paid.

“Her charmed existence is not the norm. Portraying cattle ranchers and their families in this manner leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I know no one who’s not struggling now,” she wrote.

The New Yorker described Drummond as “who her readers would be if they had more time, more money, a quiet life in the country, a professional teeth-bleaching or the support of a laconic cowboy husband.”

I personally have no desire to live on a ranch or swap over my wardrobe to cowgirl chic.

And yet I bought the book. And the magazine. And I have coveted the cookware even though I barely know my way around the kitchen.

“I don't know when this obsession started, but one day I was sitting on my couch in suburbia watching Food Network, and the next thing I knew, my kitchen was filled with her entire cookware line and I was wearing cowboy boots,” one University of Denver student wrote in a recent post titled “I Spent 20 Hours in the Car to Go to the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.”

Come to think of it, boots might be nice.

Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s features editor.