Meeting the Pioneer Woman: Just Don’t Make Me Cook
The other night I came home from work and my wife asks me, “Can you be more like the Marlboro Man?” That took me by surprise. Did she want me to start smoking? Or was it a new game she wanted to play? Then I remembered who I met that day… the Marlboro Man’s wife, the Pioneer Woman. Yep, I live in Oklahoma. There’s no doubt about that. She’s not the Okie from Muskogee. No, this Pioneer Woman is from Pawhuska, and she’s one of America’s most popular female bloggers.
When I met Ree Drummond, better known as the Pioneer Woman, in Pawhuska to do stories on rural America (“Small Town America: Home of the Pioneer Woman and Sally’s Cafe”) and interview her for a one of our newscasts, I gushed over how much I enjoyed her writing and photography. But I also sheepishly apologized for not checking out her blog until researching for the interview. Her reply made me feel a little better. “You’re not really my target audience.” I can’t help her there. Not that she needs it. It doesn’t take a research genius to figure out that women are the bullseye of this blog’s target. Check out the comment section of her posts. Names like Joe and Chuck and Frank are as rare as a t-bone at a vegan convention. The ladies can’t get enough of Ree’s stories and photos about her rancher husband, “The Marlboro Man”, her “belligerent” basset hound Charlie, or her latest Thanksgiving recipe.
I’m always fascinated by what makes popular people popular. But my first question for Ree couldn’t be, “Tell me why you’re so popular.” That would be dumb. Maybe for Lady Gaga, but not the Pioneer Woman. So instead I ask her, “Tell me why your blog is so popular.” Smart, huh? She told me that most of her readers don’t live in the country. In fact, she says, most have never seen a ranch, and they’re living that life through her experiences. “They’re fascinated by this slice of American life that a lot of people don’t get to see,” says Drummond.
Country living is an understatement. The day of our interview the Tulsa newspaper showed a gorgeous picture of dozens of wild horses on the Drummond ranch. The day before Ree blogged about a phone call that interrupted their fresh batch of cookies. A range fire had flared up that her Marlboro Man had to go blow out. Of how about a couple of photographers who crashed their vehicle on a ranch gravel road, and Ree ended up performing the Heimlich in her blue Snuggie (you gotta read that one). The secret to her blog’s success? Are you ready for this? It’s heavy. Ree says, “I wake up and let the day dictate my content.” Really heavy. It works.
For our interview, Ree and I are sitting in comfortable chairs in a quaint gift shop in downtown Pawhuska. Between us are copies of her best-selling cookbook she wrote last year (she’ll also be featured on a special hour-long Thanksgiving “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” Wednesday on the Food Network). But earlier in the day I’m anything but comfortable. Our interview was scheduled to be a cooking segment. I don’t cook. I can’t cook. So I’m nervous. Then relieved. My producer says Ree only has time for a two-minute interview. Not enough time to bake a pie or stuff, bake and baste a turkey.
I like to end interviews with a look ahead. What’s next for you? The Pioneer Woman has another book coming out in a few months. It’s called “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels”. Sounds like a good one. But what do I know? I’m no Marlboro Man, and I don’t I think I’m in that target audience either.
“The Pioneer Woman” blog.