I’ve been enthralled with the history of Sunset Magazine ever since I moved out to Northern California over 20 years ago. There’s something about the Sunset brand, and the look of the magazine, that is so honest and quintessentially Western. I don’t mean cowboy boots and country music “western,” I mean golden sunset, Pacific railroad, and land of opportunity “western.” The same mystique that surrounds Stanford University, which is just a mile down the road from the Sunset headquarters.
So, when my wife and I bought our first house with an actual--albeit postage stamp sized--yard in Palo Alto, you can imagine my delight when I realized we could see the magnificent grounds of the Sunset campus from our back patio. We could also hear how much fun they were having on many a summer evening, but that’s another story.
It turns out that the Sunset headquarters is open to the public most days, and many times I’ve wandered back there to marvel at their amazing Western gardens with species of flora ranging from desert to high alpine. It’s like walking back in time, to an era when print was the primary means of influencing public taste and dialog. Fashion, food, furnishings, gardening, farming, architecture, art, entertaining, travel--these were all the bailiwick of Sunset. Sustainable living, tiny homes and healthy organic eating were conversations on the pages of Sunset before the Great Depression! No hash tags necessary.
In this post Internet and post Twitter age, it’s hard not to get nostalgic for the time when the tastemakers of the world could be trusted to have vetted their sources, tested it in their test kitchen, or put it to use in the garden before declaring some item the next great thing. The editors at magazines like Sunset took their responsibility to their audience very seriously because they knew millions would act upon the words they read, and the trust of their audience was their greatest asset.
But actually there’s no need to be nostalgic--Sunset still maintains the same editorial excellence today. You can drop by any day and see their kitchen staff hard at work, testing five different “favorite” Dungeness Crab recipes to see which one can really be made in under an hour. The garden staff might be found experimenting with different organic fertilizers or struggling to assemble a “no assembly needed” pot sprinkling system. And you can rightly assume that the wine editor can be found testing the contents of many a bottle before making her final recommendations.
This is why it gives me great pleasure to announce a new pilot relationship between Curious and Sunset that begins today. Sunset editors will be creating courses on the Curious platform, designed both for longtime Sunset readers and new Curious learners who have never opened a Sunset book or magazine before.
We’re starting with three courses: Sunset’s Perfect Holiday Meal, Sunset’s Essentials of Wine, and Sunset’s Guide to Container Gardening. For a limited time all of these courses (19 lessons in all) are available for free to all Curious customers at www.curious.com/sunsetmagazine.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed helping Sunset create them!