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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Top Secret Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones of America's Favorite Brand-Name Foods » User review

Wendy Whitebread's Meat and Sugar

  • Dec 25, 1999
  • by
Pros: Many junk foods eviscerated in gross detail

Cons: Just...not worth it; keep reading

This review more or less applies to all of the "Top Secret Recipes" books

Top Secret Recipes has a slightly...non-gourmet target audience. If your idea of a top-notch feed is a side of KFC slaw with a Whopper(tm) and Orange Julius(tm), but your budget doesn't allow you to patronize the fine chains there, and you don't cook very much and can't identify "secret" sauces as being, say, mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together -- the TSR franchise is for you.

People who can cook will be surprised at the ease with which they can make restaurant (and, er, convenience store) stuff at home. Mmm -- those delicious ice cream sandwiches! (Cut up a block of supermarket-brand vanilla ice cream, put the ice cream between chocolate wafer cookies, wrap in foil or similar, and let the cookies soften in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Directions courtesy my father. Note: this "recipe" is fun for kids, even if half the supplies get lost in the manufacturing process.) If you want to make something more involved like peanut butter cups, you'll be far better served by buying a generic candy-making book, and taking a guess. The failing of TSR is that you don't need a lab to figure out the great mysteries of lousy food.

Here is a great secret of food:

Almost everyone thinks it tastes better with sugar.

This means throwing tablespoons of grape jelly into the marinara sauce for your Olive Garden(tm) dish will, disgustingly enough, appeal to your guests. This is the secret, I mean, premise on which many of the TSRs are built: add sugar. Other secrets involve added fat, perhaps in the form of mayonnaise, and added salt. Again, most aspiring cooks would be better off getting a real cookbook and learning: buttermilk in cole slaw was not an invention of Colonel Sanders.

There is also another tremendous secret which I will reveal here:

Ask your waitperson or read the ingredients, depending.

A restaurant in my hometown has excellent salsa that I couldn't duplicate. It maddened me; I knew they wouldn't give out the recipe, famous as they were for the salsa. Finally I got a sufficiently...absent-minded waitress, and I asked her what it didn't contain -- she told me all I needed to figure out the salsa. Even frozen entrees may reveal a curious ingredient that you never would have thought of otherwise to add to your own stuff.

Worse -- or better -- yet -- there really isn't any reason to buy the book.


Granted, not every single book recipe is there, but it's enough to get you started. The book recipes also aren't worth the cover price -- there aren't enough, and we're not talking lab research (eg, no experimentation you couldn't make in your own kitchen) in pinning down one of the 1,600 recipes for spinach and artichoke dip or honey-roasted peanuts.

Go to the website, the actual stores and restaurants, and buy real cookery books. Bon appetit!

P.S. Does the "cooking experience" field refer to my own, or the target market for the cookbook? I've left it blank.


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About the reviewer
K. Mennie ()
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Member Since: Oct 27, 2010
Last Login: Nov 23, 2010 02:45 PM UTC
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About this book


Thanks to years of Wilbur's painstaking research, now you can enjoy the guilty pleasures of all your favorite junk foods--from Big Macs to KFC Original Recipe Chicken to Reeses Peanut Butter Cups--assembled in the privacy of your very own kitchen. Line drawings.
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ISBN-13: 978-0452269958
Author: Todd Wilbur
Genre: Cooking
Publisher: Plume
Date Published: June 01, 1993
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