Here’s a fairly useless tidbit of information for you on this 13th day of February, 2014. Today in the year 1741, the United States of America published its very first magazine. (Thanks, Pierre Robert! Gotta love this guy.) The history behind the publication date is quite interesting.
The First US Magazine
Benjamin Franklin originally planned to publish the country’s first magazine under the title General Magazine in the very same month of that year, but Andrew Bedford beat him to it a good three days before his anticipated publication date with the American Magazine. Creative title, no? The monthly-issued magazine only lasted for a whopping three months and addressed historical issues as well as covering political and governmental issues. Benjamin Franklin’s magazine, General Magazine, lasted approximately six months.
The Longest Running US Magazines
Believe it or not, the longest running magazine in the United States is Scientific American, first published in August 1845. It started as a weekly newspaper and has since progressed to a monthly distributed magazine. It was founded by publisher Rufus M. Porter.
In second place, only five years behind (June 1850), is Harper’s Magazine. First published as Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in New York City, it now covers everything from literature and fine arts to politics.
Popular Magazines in the United States
It’s amazing how this list of the top 100 magazines in the US according to circulation doesn’t include so many of the ones we see in stores today. Supermarket checkout lines are littered with meaningless tabloids and magazines telling us the only way to land a guy, the best moves in bed, and the latest celeb gossip. Not to mention the magazines that tell us the best way to lose weight and still eat great. Have you actually tried any of their tactics? I feel like they’re just ploys to sell more copies. (Although I’m totally digging the front cover of Men’s Fitness in the above picture. Yes, please, Gerard Butler. UGH advertising ploys!)
And then you’ve got all the magazines strictly located in the magazine section of the grocery store. I wonder how many people actually buy them. There are magazines for hunters on how to get the biggest racks (and I’m talking deer, people…minds out of the gutter, if you will), the latest in knitting patterns (knitting seems to be increasingly popular these days), and the countless wedding magazines suggesting the most expensive ways to create the perfect wedding day. And they all sell. And end up in the trash months later (if they’re not tossed in a basket in your bathroom gathering dust as former reading materials).
About a year after I moved in to my new place, I discovered a collection of Maxim magazines featuring scantily dressed “lady” celebs scattered across the tops of my kitchen cabinets. Naturally, they were coated in thick layers of dust. And naturally, every last one of them went in the trash. Such a waste of money. I now have a nice collection of glass soda bottles lining my cabinets, and it looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself. But that’s totally beside the point.
So thanks, Pierre, for that one little fact that inspired this crazy long post. And thank you, readers who actually stuck with me through the whole post. Hope all my fellow Statesmen (and women) are staying warm during this wacky winter war!