Today marks the beginning of Washington University in St. Louis’ newest print publication, and first dedicated specifically to food culture. Started by senior (and Editor in Chief of this Spoon chapter), Nikki Freihofer, Simple Syrup seeks to examine food in a more critical manner than other publications. It will be distributed throughout the Danforth campus. Luckily, I had the opportunity to sit down with Nikki in a rare free moment for her and discuss the magazine.
Q: What made you decide to start Simple Syrup?
“I have studied food a lot throughout my major in anthropology, where I’ve concentrated my studies in issues related to food and critically analyzing food culture. One day my advisor said it be really great to have food publication on campus, and I decided, as more of a thesis, to create this new publication, showcasing writers’ interests in food, with a more critical lens.”
Q: Considering that you are part of Spoon as well, what are some major differences between Spoon and Simple Syrup?
“Spoon has gone in a direction trying to present more meaningful topics, but because its target audience is college students, Spoon has made a reputation being very much like Buzzfeed. There’s a huge market for critical food writing because we as generation so obsessed with food and want to learn more, but at Washington University in St. Louis, that obsession isn’t as present. I have somehow become a person on campus who initiates discussions about food, but am not pitting Spoon and Simple Syrup against each other, considering I lead both. They have different messages, exploring different angles. Simple Syrup gives writers the time, a whole semester, to write 2000 words, get art, and not have a 36 hour deadline. It’s a totally different game.”
Q: Can you describe why art is such a major part of Simple Syrup?
“The trend is that food writing is going online, where you have to use a platform that is designed to get click rates by any means, using weird catchy headlines and usually just simple photos. We wanted it to be more visual than it can be online, where you’re just scrolling by text photo format. There’s no playing with artistry of online publication. It’s a whole different game when you can actually print something. We have such talented designers and artists here, I really wanted to take advantage of their skills. I basically let them do whatever they want with the art so they could express their personal style.”
Q: Outside of art, do you envision any collaborations with other groups on campus?
“I would love that. One of best chances to get Simple Syrup to continue would be to collaborate with other publications like Spires or Issues. It would be good to collaborate or be a branch of a different publication if that’s what makes the magazine continue. I’d like to see groups like Campus Kitchen or Burning Kumquat more heavily represented.”