Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls 101, Broken Down

For her readers, seeing is believing, so Ree Drummond shows in order to tell. Drummond, who gave herself the title of “The Pioneer Woman” when she left her fast-paced city life after she married the cowboy of her dreams about 13 years ago, has a website: thepioneerwoman.com. Through this online medium, she shares stories about her life, ideas about homeschooling, home and garden tips and tricks, photography, and many recipes. Drummond uses photos as the basis of her instructions to anyone following her recipes. The most popular recipe on her site is “Cinnamon Rolls 101”, a post with 700 comments from pleased readers. The self proclaimed Pioneer Woman uses a unique combination of vivid photographs accompanied by humorous text to persuade her readers to have confidence to succeed at and enjoy making her cinnamon rolls.

Drummond did not intend to create a website just for her cinnamon roll recipe, but the fact that she calls it thepioneerwoman.com and the section with her recipes “The Pioneer Woman Cooks!” appeal to the reader by sustaining some idea that pioneers have a knack for creating good, warm, comfort food. Furthering this connotation with the use of “Cowgirl Food” and “Cowboy Food” as subsections on the cooking page, Drummond seems to say that she can and should be trusted to provide top-notch recipes for delicious grub.

Drummond is successful, based on the high volume of feedback that is overwhelmingly positive that she receives on her cinnamon roll recipe page. With her wit, imagery, and other tools, she is effective in her pursuit.
Let’s explore how exactly she does it…


appeals to ethos, including allusion and denotation
30 prime shots of photography
appeals to pathos with tone and overstatement
appeals to logos, through allusion and rhetorical


-Create an aesthetically pleasing web page layout

One of the first things that the audience of a website will notice is the layout and visuals and placement of text. Drummond really knew what she was doing when she included all of her photographs of the Cinnamon Rolls. I don’t know if she just has a fancy camera or what, but the 30 images of the cinnamon roll making process caused Cris to write at 11:14 am on June 18th, 2007 “I’m actually drooling”, and as Karen said on June 3rd 2007 at 9:44 am, “OMG they look absolutely wonderful I think I gained ten pounds just reading this recipe.” Even in more recent comments, such as that of Carolyn at 6:38 pm on August 31st, 2009 who said, “Died and went to heaven!” the passion remains. Similar responses such as, “I can practically smell the warm gooey goodness through my computer screen!” exude an enthusiasm that really shows that Drummond has effectively connected with her audience.

-Draw the reader in making it fun for everyone!

Appeals to pathos, cause the reader to create an emotional connection to the text or medium through which the author is expressing herself or trying to persuade the audience.

Right from the get-go, before the recipe even begins, Drummond uses an overstatement to introduce the recipe. She just goes on and on about the reactions one can expect in response to these delicious treats, which gears the reader up for a fun experience making and sharing their creation. After reading this funny intro, the audience thinks that making and sharing these treats is worth a try, to see what kind of a reaction they will get.

One way Drummond does this is through her tone. She is humorous, which draws the reader in and makes him or her feel at home and or loved. For this recipe that involves yeast, there are some steps that require taking a break to let the dough rise. Drummond says at one point, “fold laundry or sculpt or play twister with your mailman or something”, and when she does, she establishes that she knows what sort of things the typical reader may have on a to do list (laundry) but also funny things that would most likely never happen, but that when thought about, may sound like fun activities to mix up an average day at home with baking. The Pioneer woman is creating a playful and fun and inviting environment, in which you can bake and cook with her. Another example of this is when she says, “throw away the rest of your wrapping paper or build a Lego Rottweiler or do Yoga or watch Home Shopping Network and order a frozen pizza oven for your countertop or some cellulite cream.” Homemakers everywhere can share a chuckle over a comment like this that pokes fun at daily life.

-Create logical arguments so that the reader will be inclined to make the rolls.

Drummond uses the tactic of asking a rhetorical question to her audience. She asks, “Why not start a holiday tradition of delivering these delicious cinnamon rolls to your friends and cohorts?” and in doing so, she appeals to logos, because after reading the anecdote about how Drummond’s mother used to always make and share these treats with great success, it makes the readers feel that it is only logical to go try them right away. A rhetorical question works for Drummond because it really makes the readers think and consider what she proposes, to make the rolls, and her readers do!

Another way she appeals to logos is through an allusion to the famous self help book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” In the introductory description of the recipe which acts as a witty advertisement to those considering making her rolls, Drummond says, “I’ve carried on the tradition through the years and have won friends and influenced people just by delivering these rolls.” With a statement like that, Drummond allows the reader to remember that book and create a connection and envision themselves as being successful if they make these rolls, and so logically, to win friends and influence people, readers will make these rolls. The audience appreciates the wittiness of the author as she takes something as insignificant as cinnamon rolls and makes them into this powerful device by which lives can potentially be changed.

-Instill the readers with confidence.

Drummond advertises on her website that she recently published a cookbook, and people checking out a recipe are often led to believe and trust a published cookbook author. An appeal to ethos such as this builds the author’s credibility. Some may view this as self-promoting but most don’t see it as a negative thing, it really lets the reader know that they can trust this cook.

Through her diction, Drummond expresses herself as an informed and experienced cook, but also as a guide to her readers. As she uses fancy cooking words such as “heaping,” “scant,” and “scald,” and pairs them with photos of what those words mean to do, she not only lets the reader know that she knows what she is talking about, but allows them to feel comfortable with the terms and prepared to use them for themselves.

Some readers were expressed concern about the quantity of frosting that the recipe called for, and although figurative language is not often directly related to an appeal to ethos, when Drummond says “And take a walk on the wild side. Don’t be afraid to drown them puppies,” she encourages the reader to trust in her. The audience may be taking a step out of their frosting comfort zone, but they feel ok doing so because of the combination of the figurative language and an accompanying photograph of what Drummond means.

As one who was drawn into this recipe by the photographs and the humor, I may be inclined to see the masterfulness of Drummond’s style and delivery, but I feel that the huge amount of positive feedback and especially the more extreme comments like “will you marry me?” “You “DA BOMB”!! LOL!” “i love you, yes i do” are a pretty good reflection of the effect that Drummond has on her audience.

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