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Chow Supertaster cancelled

Sadly, just read this on his twitter feed: https://twitter.com/chowsupertaster

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  1. Horrible. Just horrible. Every time I enjoy ANYTHING, its gone. Oh, and Yes, I still have my ORIGINAL CHOW magazines..........All five from 2005 or whatever....Bad move..

    1. Supertaster is the only reason I ever ventured over to the Chow side.

      At least Twin Citizens have Heavy Table for our James fix. http://heavytable.com/

      1. I'm of 2 minds on this.

        1) I used to really enjoy it when it was a column, with words written out so you could read them soundlessly at your own speed. So, I miss that. I was glad that someone else was trying some of the crazy stuff that was being sold out there, and had a sense of humor about it.

        2) There was a big ruckus when it went to only video, and the chowstaff was all about how videos were better (aka better revenue generators for ads). So, serves you right chow, for making it "better", and into something nobody wanted in the first place.

        Sorry about the guy losing his gig.

        12 Replies
        1. re: cheesemonger

          I am of the same mind as you, exactly. I like this guy, enjoyed his written column, and was pretty unhappy when he went to video. I hope someone else picks him up. I'd probably even watch him in video!

          1. re: jeanmarieok

            +1 ob preferring the written word to video. but, of course, since it takes longer to watch a video than read a column, more time to view the advertising, if only with one's peripheral vision.

          2. re: cheesemonger

            I disliked the switch from print to video, but James' disarming, charming, smart and cheerful nature came across even more clearly on video. I was won over.

            Look, I admit - I keep my tinfoil hat collection padlocked in a lead lined bunker, but to me this signals again how CBS simply does not do new media very well. When James first started telling us all to visit Supertaster on YouTube, I thought "Uh oh - this probably is not really what they should be doing." Sure enough, comments are 500/1 YouTube/Chow. (hyperbolic guessing is one of my many specialties!) Sure, YouTube Supertaster got many more views, but the production cost was borne by CBS/Chow and there was probably little to no throughput back to Chow or CBS.

            It's just a shame. I will have to comfort myself with something sweet and junky to take the edge off.

            Best of luck to James and his family (including of course, the cat).

            1. re: MplsM ary

              One hopes he will continue doing something similar, but he replied to me on twitter that he won't be. Sucks.

            2. re: cheesemonger

              Yes to this. I really loved Supertaster, it was the only thing on Chow I always read - and then it went to video only, and I stopped looking at it almost entirely.

              I has a sad.

              1. re: cheesemonger


                I used to love the Supertaster column, in fact that was the only thing that brought me out of Chowhound to the Chow site, but I eventually ditched when it went to video exclusively. I just didn't enjoy it as much, no matter how much the Chow team told us how much better of an experience videos would be (for their ad $$, not for Chow members, but I digress). The written word was way funnier (to me, anyway).

                1. re: mels

                  Re: Supertaster's written word being funnier, I wholeheartedly agree. I had the same reaction to Dave Barry. Hysterical on paper, but his personal delivery of his own stuff always missed the mark. As a kid, I absolutely loved the audio recording of "Dave Barry Does Japan", hilariously narrated by Arte Johnson, who I somehow conflated with Barry himself. When I saw Barry for the first time on Letterman, the funny spark just wasn't there. It's the same with James Norton. Both writers have a funny, awkward nerdiness that just translates better on paper.

                  Mr Taster

                2. re: cheesemonger

                  While I clearly remember the change from written to video and I do remember the rukus on CH about the change, we don't know if this decision (then) has anything at all to do with why the "show" ended. Nothing has (or will) be said about why an employee or the job ended. James also had a written following enjoying his time and talent on social media off the CH site.

                  And just an aside to Supertaster, is the turn over at CHOW in title, staff, new hires and new voices...with little to no announcement as well.

                  Supertaster is missed but he's a part of a decent list of staffing changes here.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    "Supertaster is missed but he's a part of a decent list of staffing changes here.
                    Seriously, what are you talking about?

                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                      hey ratg, I'm referring to the CHOW staff list that has always appeared at the bottom of the page in the red banner. The ABOUT CHOW. I'm referring to the employees listed and their titles under CHOW. I'm referring to the change in video hosts and video content under CHOW videos. Which I've been following along since CBS took on the site. So, seriously, that's what I'm referring to.

                      Nothing mysterious, nothing "rumor" just the staff list avail for all to read. Just the ability to see and hear a change on videos produced at CHOW.

                      And my point is ONLY that James Norton is not the only CHOW employee who is gone.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        "And my point is ONLY that James Norton is not the only CHOW employee who is gone."

                        Oh, OK, I get you now. Undoubtedly true, but I rarely ever look at CHOW, so I wouldn't be paying attention to that. Supertaster on the other hand was a column I actively enjoyed.

                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                          I'm sure we all have our favorites over @ CHOW. Mine was the Obsessives and Cooking with Grandma videos and countless written columns when "guest chefs" would stop by. Some of the local chow reviewers that covered NYC were also entertaining chow-sleuths.

                          CHOW as an online magazine formatted for visitors is how I approach reading it. And, like most creative mediums (printed magazines, CD liner notes, book introductions & book flaps, author comments as well as the credentials of a creative team) I usually pay attention to the people who work not only in front but behind the scenes; who capture my attention.

                3. I agree, this is a bad move. My entire family, from 83 to 20 years old, enjoyed watching James and his videos. We found Supertaster about 6 months ago and had just been spreading the word about James and his sense of humor. Bad decision Chow.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cjhkitchen

                    I personally preferred the written version for the same reasons as cheesemonger. But every time my 7 year old sees me on chowhound (which is way too often), she wants Supertaster. Even the 3 year old gets in on it. And we can't even get any of these crazy products in Canada, if we can the formulations would be different anyway.

                    1. re: julesrules

                      A few of them are specifically comparing products from the us and canada like Canadian KD v US KD

                      1. re: kpaxonite

                        Oh thanks, I'll have to look for those! Would love to see an Oreo showdown (Canada so clearly wins on that one :)

                  2. This ain't right. The videos have been much better over the last 2+ years, but James was the glue that held them together, IMHO. Big mistake. I'm sure Chow's CBS overlords and their focus groups have something much more bland in store. Maybe another homey Rachael Ray-esque personality who'll make everyone feel good about themselves while using a can of Duncan Hines frosting and will test well in the high-disposable income demographic.

                    1. I haven't followed supertaster since chow went to ad laden videos. loved the column tho'

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BootC

                        Yup, me too. Call me crotchety, but I don't go for the videos.

                      2. Was it canceled by his cardiologist?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: catroast

                          That is what I was thinking!

                          Maybe having a young, slightly overweight guy tasting all kinds of junk food (mostly absolute crap) was not going in the right direction for Chow? I haven't noticed other changes but I don't venture over to the Chow side much.

                        2. Add me to the list of those who will miss Supertaster. It had become something of a weekend ritual around here to watch the videos for the week and see what he was up to.

                          I just followed him on Twitter, we will see what he comes up with next.

                          Best of luck to James Norton in his future endeavors.

                          1. That was the only reason I had chow streaming on roku! I loved James Norton and attitude. I actually purchased some of the products on the strength of his positive reviews. Why did they cancel it?

                            1. Best news of the day. As soon as I heard this I asked to have my account reactivated with Chow.
                              He should keep his political views to himself and stick with being a internet food critic.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: genoO

                                You perhaps might consider not getting all sandy up in there, not everyone wishes to drink the Koolaid, er is that tea.

                                If you can't let someones political views slip by when:

                                A: He was seldom snarky about anything.
                                B: He is a great reviewer.

                                Then you should perhaps stick to the Rush/Faux News/O'Reilly channels.

                                1. re: robertcoy1

                                  Actually, I read CHOW and CHOWHOUND to take a break and enjoy the food discussion. He WAS a food reviewer, although going through the frozen food section was pretty lame. I did not watch him to listen to his political views. Its about food, that is what he was being paid for.
                                  He made mistakes, as we all do, and is part of the learning process. His mistake was forgetting the powers who are signing his check, are paying for food reviews.
                                  And, how many frozen food sections and drive thru windows are there? In all, pretty lame.

                                  1. re: genoO

                                    So you know why the show was cancelled then?

                                    1. re: genoO

                                      This is the third reference you've made to this on this board. Please give me a specific example of a place where he injected his political views into a review. Links much appreciated.

                                      1. re: JonParker

                                        I can independently confirm that Mr. Norton did at times hint at his political views but it was really only around the election and he hasn't done it since. Also the people who think that this is any kind of big deal need to just shut up. If you don't like it, don't watch it and especially don't whine about it.

                                2. Due to watching so many Supertaster videos, I bought a new Chevy Impala. Since they canceled him, I am returning the car and letting Chevy know the reason.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                      Buying the car or returning it?
                                      Either way, I was kidding with my original comment.

                                    1. re: knucklesandwich

                                      If the cancellation originated at the corporate lawyer level (or via advertising channels), we probably won't hear anything official.

                                      Did Supertaster ever generate much discussion - other than complaints which it switched from written word to video? Did anyone comment, either on the videos, or Youtube channel? While I watched his videos out of curiosity, I never took his recommendations seriously. Except for a few things like root beer and mayo I don't buy the kinds of things he tested.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        A cursory look on Youtube shows between 10 K and 100 K views per video. Looks like about 105 K subscribers. Those are not bad numbers.

                                        1. re: dbrodbeck

                                          It could well be the most popular Chow video series.

                                          But I can imagine certain large producers telling Chow 'We don't like what Supertaster is saying about our products'. They could be saying that with a threat of withholding advertising, or threatening some sort of legal action.

                                          Mind you this is pure speculation on my part. But I don't think this series was cancelled out of simple stupidity or jealousy (as some have implied).

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            He has only said it was a surprise.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Or, it could be that Chow wants to control the editorial in-house. Maybe they want better production value. Maybe someone at the top doesn't like him. Maybe they don't want YouTube clicks, they want Chow clicks and he wasn't delivering those. Maybe he wanted to be paid more than they wanted to pay. Maybe they thought he was a pain in the ass to work with. Maybe they want someone else to do it. Who the hell knows and what is the point of speculating. If Chow ever does say something, and they really don't have to, I guarandamntee you it will be "We are moving in a different direction." He is gone and he won't be back.

                                              1. re: Samalicious

                                                I may be wrong, but my impression is that Chow gets credit for YouTube clicks. It's a Chow channel.

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  That is interesting. You said that YouTube is a "Chow" channel. I wondered why James Norton was getting away with suggesting viewers go to YouTube to view his Supertaster videos because he was, essentially, telling viewers to leave the Chow website and visit YouTube. This is not a way to increase Chow website traffic. I thought that that might be why he was fired.

                                                  Anyway, I will miss him very much. His was one of the best features on Chow. I have always stuck to the Chow website and will still spend most of my food-related time here. But I will go see if I can find him on YouTube. Chow, this was not a smart move on your part.

                                                  1. re: gfr1111

                                                    gfr, I think you've jumbled things up a bit. CHOW.com has it's own YouTube Channel and CHOW's Supertaster is a separate YouTube channel also owned by CHOW. Supertaster spoke to his audience from CHOW.com, YTube, Twitter and some smaller media outlets and always as an employee of CHOW called Supertaster.

                                                    CHOW.com has gone in the direction of social media for some time now. Sites that direct CH members to venture off this site and onto partnering sites. A complete list of those social media outlets can be found at the bottom of this page as icons on the red banner.

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      Thanks for the clarification, HillJ. At any rate, what I take from all this corporate complication is that YouTube and Chow are related and encouraging viewers of Chow to go to YouTube is not a corporate sin. So James Norton's program was terminated for other reasons, known only to CBS.

                                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                                        Sadly for fans of the Supertaster program but not forgotten. The videos remain a part of the CHOW archives for all to enjoy. I still replay some of my personal favorites and re-read articles from way back!

                                                        But as far as employment goes, it's none of my business.

                                              2. re: paulj

                                                If you could sue over a bad review, Chowhound and Yelp would be out of business.

                                        2. Ouch. I was mad when he switched to videos as I thought he wrote very well and generated more comments. I did finally give in and start watching his videos though. I'll bet he pops up somewhere but we might have to wait til the baby is older.

                                          1. If you liked Supertaster, go to HeavyTable.com, where you'll find Supertaster's wonderful writer, James Norton. He doesn't do as much on wacky food tasting, but he IS our top expert on Midwestern cheese & beer. Not to mention State Fair food.


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                                              That should take about 12 weeks,

                                            2. Maybe the person who posted about purchasing the mayo James suggested is on to something. My daughter and I purchased the popcorn Supertaster ranked as number 1. My point is, perhaps Chow would consider morphing Supertaster into a "Primer" of sorts, comparing olive oils, hot sauces, salsas, pasta brands; things that might more in keeping with Chow's audience. Just a thought.... and a way to keep our James Norton fix!

                                              1. Count me among the many who won't be returning to Chow anytime soon because of this- Supertaster was by far their most interesting and enjoyable column, and even though I did prefer the written column format of the series to the videos, James' charismatic presence made watching worth the annoying ads. Hopefully Chow will see a loss in page views and ad revenue noticeable enough that they wise up to their mistake.

                                                  1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                    Why would CH comment? I am always surprised that individuals expect business to comment on their decisions.

                                                    What do you want them to say?

                                                    For die hard fans I can't imagine any comment that would satisfy. For the uninitiated (like me) no answer really matters. I assume its a business decision, nothing more

                                                    He's gone and I doubt any petition will bring him back. But you never know.

                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                      Which question do you want answered first; "why", or "what"?

                                                      1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                        LMAO. Seriously?

                                                        OK, if you really need that much help….Why not in the order they where posed?

                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                          1) Because they fired their best-known columnist.

                                                          2) Why they did it.

                                                  2. Just to balance things out I never liked Supertaster. James is a nice enough fellow and I'm sorry he lost his gig, but I never thought it was funny and won't miss him tasting Fiery Cheetos.


                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                      I was never fascinated by his choice of things to taste. The items were never anything I would even consider buying. They always seemed to be items that a ten year old would want to take in the lunchbox if mom would let them. Although I do love my junk food, I am certainly not on a quest to discover more junk food to buy and eat.

                                                      Not sure how his tastings are really relevant to finding the best chow.

                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                        I think a lot of the choices for the Supertaster pieces were selected because the items were receiving a heavy advertising push at the time. So people are curious as to whether or not this new product they keep seeing ads for is any good or not. That's a reasonable niche.

                                                        If you ever look at the Chains board here on Chowhound, there is plenty of interest in any new McDonald's products and the like. Maybe it's not for you, but lots of other people on this board like it. For example, I never read the gardening board, but I'm glad Chowhound is broad enough to support it for those who have that interest.

                                                        Back to Supertaster, in between the fast food and snack food, he would occasionally sneak in a review of something cool, like single malt scotch or small batch bourbon. A few times he reviewed products that were sent to him by fans in other countries like Japan and Australia.

                                                        I found Norton's pieces entertaining and will miss them. However, it seems that he has a lot of other ventures and I will watch for his work in other media.

                                                      2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                        I read this as Fiery Cheerios and now I'm very disappointed.

                                                      3. I am extremely disappointed to hear of this. James, your videos will be sorely missed.

                                                        1. Please bring him back!

                                                          1. I can get the same information at grubgrade and seriouseats and they actually show more of the food. He seemed like a nice guy but it was frustrating that the focus was more on him than the actual food.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                                              I would agree that it was maybe a little more about him than the food, but would really say that it was more of a healthy 50/50 mix. Let's face it, I'm going to guess that a large percentage of people that watched his reviews would never touch the highly commercialized / processed "food" he reviewed, but were actually more interested in him. Plus I loved how he would put his supertasting abilities to objectively critique crap "food" - very entertaining. I'm still not sure why I was captivated by watching his videos, but I was, and watched him religiously for well over a year now. I'm personally very sad to see him go.

                                                              1. re: DKrik

                                                                wow, if it was about him, it sure must have been piss poor, because all i know from watching the videos is he has a cat, lives in wisconsin or minneapolis, and recently had a baby.

                                                                other than that, i can't remember a single thing about him, except for what he said about the products.

                                                                  1. re: JonParker

                                                                    exactly my point. the blog was so much about him, i even got the number of cats wrong.

                                                            2. I have to agre with DKrik, that while it is unlikely that I'll ever run out and buy whatever James has been tasting, I look forward to his "reviews" and find them really enjoyable. I think that Supertaster is to Chow as the cartoons are to The New Yorker. While not essential to the literary content they certainly add to the enjoyment of the whole.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: junescook

                                                                I have to say that James may have some effects in getting me to try the McDonald Fish McBites. I was seriously considering, but his review may have pushed me over the edge. These things are very tough to say for sure. Nevertheless, I also find his reviews to be enjoyable.

                                                                <Supertaster is to Chow as the cartoons are to The New Yorker. While not essential to the literary content they certainly add to the enjoyment of the whole.>

                                                                While I do agree that it is not essential, I must say that I find his product reviews to be better than CHOW's official reviews. I have even said that way before he was let go. I wrote that the CHOW official reviews may want to learn a thing or two from James. Alas.

                                                              2. Sadness, Supertaster was the only Chow videos I watched.

                                                                1. Just came here to agree with all the eulogies and to add that my three times a week visits with Supertaster were always followed by some poking around the rest of the site for items of interest. That won't happen anymore; I'll just visit when I have a specific item to research. Surely that can't be the result CHOW desired. I'll add that I think it was extraordinarily tacky of CHOW not to afford James a goodbye video or address the demise of the vlog in any other fashion----rude to him and disdainful of his fans. In "old" journalism columnists were able to use their final pieces to explain the circumstances, thank their readers, and perhaps impart some final words of wisdom. They didn't just disappear without explanation. The new journalism sucks.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: MommaJ

                                                                    <The new journalism sucks.>

                                                                    Well, look a the bright side. In old days, a writer or journalist is pretty much silent after he/she left his position. Today, anyone can continue to communicate and express on tweeter, youtube, facebook,...etc. James Norton (Supertaster) has continued his communications with his fans through these other outlets.

                                                                  2. Well, this was the sole reason I came to CHOW.com and started http://reddit.com/r/supertaster

                                                                    Doubtful I will return to CHOW now....

                                                                    You will be missed, James!