Thursday, January 26, 2012

Whatever the Question, Chicken Soup is the Answer

In 1993 an enterprising duo of inspirational speakers published a book called “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” It was a huge hit and spawned an endless parade of subsequent titles. In the 19 intervening years, Chicken Soup has become the kudzu of the literary world, engulfing just about every aspect of human need, condition, classification and emotion possible. Almost 200 titles have been published. 

Consider the following Chicken Soup subjects:
From General Souls we now have Specific Souls: Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul, the Recovering Soul, the Prisoner’s Soul, the Bride’s Soul, the New Mom’s Soul, PreTeens soul, Teenage Soul, Romantic Soul, Couple’s Souls, even one dedicated to Messages from Heaven. As well as College Souls, Entrepreneur Souls and Military Wife’s Souls. If you want to see the complete list, check out the link at the end of this post.

And here’s the shrewdest part of all. Most of those stories are written by the people who read the books, albeit with some editors’ input. It seems almost everyone on this planet has a story to share.

I almost submitted a story during a recent call for submissions. The subject of an upcoming  book was “Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That.” I thought about my dog Sadie, a golden retriever. She’s very smart. Among other accomplishments, she retrieves two newspapers every morning, the NY Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She brings them in, holds them in her mouth until I take them from her, then walks over and slams the door shut. That, I thought, might be worth a Chicken Soup contribution. But as with so many of my ideas, I waited too long and the Nov. 30 deadline passed. Sadie knew I missed it and was miffed, because one week later she brought in the papers as usual, and gave me the Post. This time, however, she took the Times over to the dining room table, slipped the blue plastic cover off the paper, took out the sports section, spread it on the table with her paws, then looked at me and said, in a clear, gentle voice reminiscent of Dame Judi Densch, “Looks to me as though Eli and the Giants will end up in the Super Bowl.”  Then she gave me a look that said, clearly, “Don’t miss the next deadline, pal.”

At the time I didn’t think the Giants had a chance. In retrospect, I’m sorry she didn’t make her prediction before Nov. 30. I would’ve submitted something for sure.

A couple of days ago my daughter, Holly, informed me she had a sore throat. I suggested tea and honey, gargle with salt water, and lots of chicken soup. The kind in a bowl, not soft-bound. She said she had done the tea and honey, but not the chicken soup. Then my wife reminded me:  Holly’s a vegetarian. That took me right into a very exciting concept: A line of books for vegetarians. Call it the Lentil Soup series: Lentil Soup for the Vegetarian’s Soul,” “..for the Salad Lover’s Soul,” “..for the Beans and Rice Soul,” “...for the Tofu Soul.” And even, “Lentil Soup for People Who Don’t Like Chicken Soup.” That would be a limited edition, maybe for some Third World nation that holds the chicken to be sacred.

I’ll keep working on that concept. Maybe a “Tomato Soup” series for Nursing Home Residents. Ideas are welcome.

Here’s one more idea before I end this. A line of books for atheists, or any other group that doesn’t believe in a soul. “Chicken Soup for the Atheist’s Soul” will be 8 blank pages and a coupon good for 3 cans of Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup.


  1. Hi Gerry! Funny stuff. I'm sorry you missed the deadlines! Also, I like your idea for the different kind of Soupy, I mean Souls! :D

  2. Oh my gosh, this is some funny stuff. I just received a final contract for my contribution to the CS Messages from Heaven book. An um, only some people have their stories edited. :)
    You should consider sedning a story. You write so well, really.

  3. I'll see if I can find a suitable subject, Linda... and make the deadline. Thanks for the encouragement. You too, Becky. As Charlie Chaplin said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted." Better than orange juice. By the way, Linda, what message have you received from Heaven?

  4. Gerry--There's a hockey anthology--the deadline is Monday. There is also a parenthood one coming up in the spring. One about "positive women" but since you don't seem to be a cross-dresser, perhaps you have a story about a woman you know.

    How about Cabbage Soup for the Flatulent Soul?

    And the message Linda received from Heaven was this: Women who wear pajama jeans get a free ticket into the Pearly Gates...

    1. The only thing I know or care about hockey is the thing they hit is a puck. I know even less about positive women and take the general approach that they're all positive, so I don't get into trouble. Finally, I'm not sure what pajama jeans are.

  5. Whenever Ann called saying she or one of her children had a cold -
    I always took them "chicken soup" in those little envelopes -
    dried - you mixed them with water. Does that qualify me as a good
    mother anyway?

    1. Chicken soup is chicken soup, even if it's powdered. But, of course, its healing powers are somewhat diminished. You're still in the category of "good mother."

  6. Ger- You hesitated to mention "Chicken Soup for better husbands!' I think this would make for a good read (if they can forget their egos)! We need help with the cooking, cleaning up after eating. How about picking up your underpants that you left on the floor. Vacuuming and dusting would't hurt. I mean, we are BOTH retired now so the house should be a 'we' thing! Last one up makes the bed - after moi washes and dry the laundry, could it hurt you to fold them and put them away? How about cleaning your own toilet, hanging up your wet towel,and turn the lights off when you are finished?
    I know it would be quite a THICK book, but a great read! Mary Lee

  7. That's GREAT Sis, now Gerry can start on a new series.....Chicken Soup for Marriage Counselors!