In 1993, the world was blessed with an iconic collection of 101 inspirational stories “to open the heart and rekindle the spirit”. It was the birth of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Now, more than a quarter century after the initial release, there are at least 276 different motivational books in the Chicken Soup collection. They are all tear-inducing, heart-clenching compilations of aspartame-sweet stories. And there’s a book for many, many souls.
The brand isn’t just self-help books anymore. The company has managed to translate short, saccharine content into multiple offerings. Over time, it has experimented with magazines, apps and canned goods (yes, soup). They weren’t all successful, but its current product line up is still robust. There’s a podcast, a radio network, an extensive series of educational materials for teachers, pet food, and as of 2016, an entertainment company. This is where Chicken Soup is really simmering.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSSE) was formed in order to produce, distribute, and license video content through tv programming and online video. The company went public in 2017, and was expected to reach $36 million in revenue in 2018. In early 2019, following the acquisition of online video channels and streaming rights, it bought Aplus.com, a digital media company co-founded by Ashton Kutcher.
In every venue, Chicken Soup for the Soul products continue to maintain the appearance of wholesome optimism. Some find it a respite from reality. Others find it cloying. But it’s certainly on brand.