Five Bon Appetit magazines sit in a semicircle

Bon Appétit is a food lifestyle brand that has become increasingly popular among young people, including KU students. The brand has over 11.4 million social media followers and 4.1 million Youtube subscribers. 

Bon Appétit, a food lifestyle magazine and brand located in New York City, has seen a boom in popularity within the last two years, particularly on social media and among young people, including University of Kansas students. 

BA started out as a magazine in 1956, but since has expanded to include a website, YouTube videos, podcasts and an app.

According to Condé Nast, BA’s publisher, BA has 11.4 million social media followers and 6.5 million monthly print readers. Social Blade, a social media analytics website, estimates BA’s YouTube channel saw an increase of over 4.1 million subscribers between January 2018 and January 2020. 

What is it about Bon Appétit that attracts people? 

According to Condé Nast, the BA audience “feels deeply connected to our editors who create a family-like community whether that’s in-book, on screen, on stage or behind a mic.” 

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Gabby Schreiner, a junior from Wichita, is one of many KU students who has contributed to the Bon Appétit boom. Schreiner said she has enjoyed cooking since she was young and participated in 4-H. She learned about Bon Appétit from her high school culinary instructor. 

Schreiner said BA stands apart from other cooking channels because of its sense of community. 

“It’s almost like a group atmosphere,” Schreiner said. “They’re all in a kitchen together cooking, and I think a lot of people just like that idea of being together.”

This personal touch is evident in BA’s YouTube videos, where the biggest boom in popularity occurred. The BA YouTube channel currently has over 5.48 million subscribers. Unlike other food-related channels like Buzzfeed’s Tasty, BA includes more than just recipe videos where faceless and voiceless chefs show you how to make pull-apart pizza bread. 

BA videos are usually shot in a test kitchen and star BA editors, chefs and bakers. Many of them have their own “shows” on the channel and guest-star in each other’s videos. Through these comedic and lighthearted videos, the audience learns more about the BA characters who all have their own personalities, specialties and quirks. The atmosphere around the kitchen is casual, relaxed and friendly, and the chefs don’t take themselves too seriously.

One of the most popular BA stars is pastry chef Claire Saffitz and her solo show "Gourmet Makes." "Gourmet Makes" consists of Saffitz making handmade gourmet versions of well-known cheap snacks and candies. The "Gourmet Makes" Skittles episode is the most viewed BA video on YouTube with over 12 million views. 

Saffitz has become so popular online that she has an entire Twitter hashtag, #IWDFCFTBATK,  which was created on social media. #IWDFCFTBATK stands for “I would die for Claire from the Bon Appétit test kitchen.” 

Like many BA fans, Schreiner said her favorite BA show is Saffitz’s "Gourmet Makes." Schreiner said she watches her videos regularly and enjoys Saffitz’s videos because you can see the entire process and watch her fail over and over until she gets it right. 

“Her end product is almost worth it,” Schreiner said. 

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Christian Toth, a sophomore from Kansas City, Kansas, is a double major in visual communication and strategic communications. He said he grew up watching cooking shows hosted by chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Robert Irvine and started teaching himself how to cook as he got older and his family got too busy to cook meals every day.

Toth now works for Kansas City Magazine and became interested in magazines through his work. As a visual communication major, he said he especially appreciates BA’s magazine layout and design.

“I feel like Bon Appétit is doing a really good job with visuals,” Toth said. “I just really appreciate how they kind of set up the magazine and the consistency of it. I just appreciate them having a commitment to trying to make everything simplistic and making the recipes really simple for people.” 

Unlike many recent fans who came to learn about BA through its YouTube channel, Toth said he first became interested in BA in 2019 by listening to its podcast, the "Bon Appétit Foodcast," which is hosted by Adam Rapoport, the editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit. The podcasts feature Rapoport interviewing chefs and other people in the food industry.

“The reason I like Bon Appétit is because [Rapoport's] able to bring these other experiences in that you really wouldn’t relate to food, but they give a connection to other people, and I think that’s what he’s trying to capitalize on,” Toth said. “Food can connect you to other personalities that maybe you wouldn’t find if you didn’t ask them, ‘Hey, what’s your favorite soup?’” 

After becoming a fan of the podcast, Toth said he decided to subscribe to the print magazine.

“I really like how they give you a bunch of recipes, and it’s always going to be different,” Toth said. “I feel like they’re really good at searching up these new cliques or communities and then basing their food off that month for it, and so I really like how they’re just inclusive of those groups.”  

Toth said he thinks BA’s boom in popularity is because the company has branched out across different mediums and made the brand inclusive to anyone who likes food — not just moms or chefs. 

Because many college students might not have access to a kitchen or the time and money to cook meals, it may be hard to imagine college students contributing to BA’s boom in popularity, but both Toth and Schreiner said they think even those who are unable or uninterested in cooking can still enjoy Bon Appétit in its many forms.

“I think, when you’re deprived of being able to cook, you can make up for that by watching other people do that,” Schreiner said.

Toth said the podcast doesn’t always focus on cooking — it also shares good stories. 

“I mean, yes, they do bring up the different styles to poach an egg because there’s millions,” Toth said, “And they do bring up some of these other stories of cooking, but at the same time they also bring up different stories about people and experiences that I bet someone could relate to — and maybe that would get the ball rolling.”