Welcoming new homeowners with bread, salt, and wine, just before Mary’s Big News. Image: IMDb

On the face of it, the 1946 holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t seem like a Food Movie.

The film is, on the whole, an examination of a man’s thwarted attempts to leave his hometown and Be Somebody, as well as his slide into a suicidal depression.

We watch this film every year, and we just noticed Something: The use of food in the film. It seems to us that scenes with food are signposts; they signal a change in the direction of the story.

Perhaps we’re reading too much into it. But consider the following:

Young George Bailey makes a sundae before learning a hard truth about Life. Image: Twitter
College-age George dines with dad before an ill-timed heart attack. Image: IMDb
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner to kickstart a marriage. Image: IMDb
Mary prepares dinner during George’s manic rage. Image: Hooked on Houses

Perhaps we’ve made the movie sound like a bit of a Downer, which it is, in places, but it also celebrates love, family, and friendship. It asks, How do you find your way when the world has forgotten you?

For us, It’s a Wonderful Life is a comfort movie, much like a cup of hot cocoa or a bowl of homemade Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Really, there ought to be a cookbook dedicated to this film.

And guess what? There is!

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook has just been released to mark the film’s 75th anniversary.

Some of the recipes are an homage to scenes in the film (e.g. Mulled Wine, pg. 107), while others are inspired by popular dishes from the 1930s and 1940s (e.g. Welsh Rarebit with Roasted Tomato, pg. 49).

Naturally, the first recipe we tried was the hot cocoa (pg. 108 – don’t forget the marshmallows), because it pairs nicely with recipe-perusing.

Just look at the fabulous vintage-style photography. (Click on image to open gallery.)

You need this book. Not only does it have a surprisingly eclectic collection of recipes, it also includes holiday crafts and a dinner guide entitled – what else? – “How to Throw the Perfect Vintage Christmas Dinner”.

This is no cheesy, halfhearted tribute to a beloved classic. The recipes are thoughtfully chosen and researched, and they almost make you feel like you’re a part of the gang in good ol’ Bedford Falls.

Treat yourself to The Official Bailey Family Cookbook, and have a wonderful holiday season with loved ones and, of course, good food.


  • Disclosure: Insight Editions sent us a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
  • Click HERE to purchase your copy of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook.

Happily blogging about old movies and using the royal "We".

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