The untold truth of the Pioneer Woman

Chances are, you've read The Pioneer Woman's blog, tried her cookbook recipes, or watched her hit show on Food Network. If you haven't, let me introduce you. Ree Drummond is a city girl turned country woman who has turned her life into the ultimate lifestyle brand. While she describes herself as "happy, messy, and weird," Drummond is a savvy business woman who has leveraged her charming lifestyle and storytelling abilities, into sharing her everyday life with millions of readers. 

While Drummond has not been shy with information about her curious and carefree life as a wife, rancher, and mom of four, there is still so much to learn about her. There are some things even an open book like Drummond doesn't announce to the world. From a life-changing bar encounter, to a Food Network episode she probably wishes we'd all forget, there's a whole lot to discover about The Pioneer Woman.

She's generally an open book, but she draws the line at "hanky panky"

While Drummond isn't shy about sharing her family's life on the small screen, she has to draw the line somewhere. It's not easy for family, when your mom or wife is famous for sharing your life.

"In terms of my family life, I wound up with this husband who's been incredibly supportive," Drummond told Forbes. "I don't write about hanky-panky, but I'm not the kind of girl to talk about it with my friends either. I've found a comfort level there of sharing. There's a line that's there, for sure, but for me it's sort of innate and undefinable."

So don't worry Marlboro Man, you're safe there!

She's been through some really tough times you would never know about

Even though her blog is full of perfectly decorated rustic tables and cute compliments for her husband, Drummond has dealt with struggles just like each of us. Fortunately she's had a solid partner to walk that path with her. "I don't believe that romance conquers all and love conquers all," Drummond told BookPage. "But the passion — I don't know — it propels you forward through the tough times."

When Drummond was first married, not only was she adjusting to a completely new life, but her entire world was in upheaval. Despite homesickness, and her parents' divorce, she found strength in her marriage. "That's not to say that a 20-year-old marriage or a 40-year-old marriage has to have daily bursts of roses and chocolates and diamonds," she explained in the interview, "But I remember through the rough times when we were first married — my parents split, all of the bumps in the road — I really was sustained by this guy. My heart would race when I was around him."

She's been in hot water for racism

With her sweet demeanor and down home style, Drummond seems pretty scandal-proof, but she made headlines back in 2017. After re-airing an old episode of The Pioneer Woman, Food Network began hearing from angry fans about Drummond's comments in regards to her spicy Asian hot wings.

During the episode, Drummond was making snacks for game day. When she pulled the Asian hot wings out of the oven, her family looked less than enthused. "Where's the real wings?" her husband Ladd asked. "I don't trust them," remarked a friend. Drummond laughed and pulled out a pan of traditional buffalo wings from the oven. "I'm just kidding, guys. I wouldn't do that to you," she said.

The Twitter account Thick Dumpling Skin quickly tweeted, "Hey @FoodNetwork – this anti-Asian sentiment being promoted on @thepioneerwoman's show really isn't cool." Others followed, tweeting and writing to Food Network. Drummond has yet to comment on the matter.

Marlboro Man is certainly not the traditional "king" of the household

When we think of a rancher family, so many of us imagine Drummond in the house cooking those amazing meals while Marlboro Man drives the cattle — but don't be fooled. They have a modern marriage, and don't accept the traditional roles.

"They've always been a team," Drummond's mother, Gerre told The New Yorker. "And this, coming from a Western ranch culture in which the men have traditionally been the kings." According to the article, Marlboro Man shuttles the kids around while Drummond works on her blog and other projects — he even brainstorms about upcoming blog post ideas with her.

You won't believe how Drummond keeps her kids grounded

When your mom is a celebrity, your life is probably super glamorous, right? Not for the Drummond kids. Mama Ree makes her living writing about her family life for hundreds of thousands of fans, but for the kids, it's just normal life. "They're aware that their mom might do a few things that their friends' moms don't do, but when we're home on the ranch, the word fame isn't at play," Drummond told Blasting News. "I mean, I have manure on my porch right now that I have to clean up later. We're very grounded here in the country."

Additional proof? Drummond also homeschools her four children. Seriously, where does she find the time? Not only that, but she makes all of her kids help out around their ranch, which is their family's business (other than Ree's blog, of course). When being interviewed by The New Yorker, her son Todd asked in the midst of his ranching chores, "Mama, can we go inside and do school?" Drummond replied, "Oh, now you want to do school! All of a sudden, schoolwork is soundin' pretty good."

We can't think of a better way to keep your kids grounded than having them clean up animal manure. Good job, mama!

A corporate California girl meets a cowboy in a bar...

A huge part of the appeal of Drummond is her sweet love story. According to an interview in BookPage, she was living a fast-paced city life when her entire world changed in a quiet little bar. As a corporate girl in California, Drummond came home to take a break, to visit her parents in Oklahoma before applying to law schools in Chicago. One night, she went out with friends and noticed a cowboy in the bar. The cowboy, whom she now refers to as "Marlboro Man" in her blog, turned out to be her future husband, Ladd.

"He was tall, strong and mysterious, sipping bottled beer and wearing jeans, and, I noticed, cowboy boots. And his hair. The stallion's hair was very short and silvery gray — much too gray for how young his face said he was, but just gray enough to send me through the roof with all sorts of fantasies of Cary Grant in North by Northwest," Drummond wrote in her book, The Pioneer Woman.

It wasn't long before Drummond ditched her stilettos and sushi, for cowboy boots and steaks.

"I am not an extraordinary person"

When you see the success that Drummond has had in a relatively short amount of time, it's hard to believe that she could stay grounded through all of it. People are absolutely obsessed with her life and family. When asked about the overwhelming public interest in her family life, Drummond just rolls with it.

"I know this sounds a little funny," she told BookPage, "But I contend that I am not an extraordinary person. There's nothing extraordinary about me or my story. I think everyone has a story — I've just found a fun way to tell my story and convey my day-to-day life."

Her move back to Oklahoma "sure raised eyebrows"

Drummond grew up in Oklahoma, but never planned to stay there. She grew up in an affluent family with a stay-at-home mom and an orthopedic surgeon dad. As soon as she finished high school, Drummond packed her bags and headed for the University of Southern California, studying broadcast journalism. At the time, she "wanted to be Jane Pauley," as she told The New Yorker. She then took a job in Los Angeles after graduating, according to the article, working in marketing — she always planned to make her life in a big city. But life doesn't always work out how you imagine — sometimes in the best possible way.

Trading her fast-paced LA lifestyle for cattle and cowboy hats surprised Drummond herself, but she wasn't the only one reeling from her decision. "I sure raised my eyebrows," her father told the New Yorker. The change took some getting used to for Drummond too. "I didn't get that you just don't go anywhere, that doing so was inconvenient," she told the magazine. As soon as Drummond and her new husband were married, they became pregnant on their honeymoon and started an entirely new adventure.

Think the fame fell into her lap? Uh... no

Drummond's laid back style and casual ranch life creates an illusion, making it seem like all of this fame just fell into her lap. As if she's just a regular mom who started a blog, and just like magic, her life changed. But it's rarely that simple. Maintaining a wildly popular blog is more than a full time job, and Drummond has put in the work.

"She's quietly, insanely ambitious," her friend and fellow blogger Ed Levine told the New Yorker. "Drummond reminds me of a duck: underneath the water, it's paddling like mad, but above the surface it's placid."

If you're a blogger, you're about to hate her a little: She never marketed, it just grew organically (what?!)

When your blog is visited by tens of millions of people every month — "22 million page views monthly," according to Forbes in 2010 you're doing something right. And one would assume that the Pioneer Woman has been marketing herself like mad to obtain that kind of reach.

"I hate to say that it grew organically, but I didn't do anything outright to promote it — didn't take out ads or anything," Drummond told the magazine. "The awards I received definitely put me on lists, and the lists brought more traffic, so it grew exponentially from there." The Pioneer Woman was named Weblog of the Year at the 2009 Bloggie Awards.

She "just makes things work within the life I have"

Despite her brand being so popular, Drummond has kept her team small. She seems to work on her blog and books constantly. "For the most part, I'm a one-woman show, but every one-woman show has behind-the-scenes help," Drummond told Forbes. She contracts out help when she needs it, such as for a new website design, but the content is all hers.

"I hate to play the I-live-in-the-country card, but it really takes all of the 'pack the kids into the car and run from here to there' out of the equation. I'm home all day," Drummond told the magazine. "Some days I fit blogging into my home schooling and some days I fit home schooling into my blogging. I'm not type A. I'm not the kind of woman who has to accomplish a certain number of things by 8 a.m. everyday or her day is shot. I just make things work within the life I have."

We can all relate to her "fish out of water" story... even kids

Drummond seems to be one of those people who can't sit still. For anyone else, the thought of managing a successful blog, TV show, store, and homeschooling might send one over the edge. But not Drummond, and now she's ready for her next project — children's book author!

"I have a new children's book coming out this spring. It's called "Little Ree" and it was a lot of fun to write," she wrote on her blog. "As most of you know, I moved to the sticks (or the boonies, or the country) as an adult when Marlboro Man and I got married. And it was… a transition, to say the least! I was a fish out of water, I felt like I didn't belong, and I saw and experienced many things that freaked me out."

In her book, the heroine "Little Ree" moves with her family from their city home out to the country. "For some time, I have thought it would be fun to take those experiences and tell them through the eyes of a little girl," says Drummond.

She never planned to blog about food

You might be shocked to learn that Drummond never planned to include recipes in her blog. "I had been teaching myself photography," Drummond told The Huffington Post. "I was getting ready to cook my husband a steak, and I thought, 'I've blogged about every other thing I've done, so I'll blog some photos of the steak… I wound up posting 12 or 13 photos, and the response was really favorable. Even if somebody already knew how to cook a steak, they enjoyed watching it unfold through pictures."

Her recipe section quickly took off, and Drummond was even offered a cookbook deal. Shortly after her cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks hit shelves, The Huffington Post reported that the Food Network contacted her about her own show.

"Neither of us really jumped into it… I wasn't always convinced that was the direction I wanted to go," Drummond said in the interview. "I'm a writer and a photographer — I'm totally aware that doesn't always translate to TV." However, in her case, a show turned out to translate very well.

She has her own store

Drummond is ready to add one more project to her plate — her own store! The Oklahoma native clearly has a deep love for her home state, and she's now drawing huge crowds to her own little spot. Her store, which she refers to as "The Merc" includes a retail space, restaurant, bakery, and coffee shop — and it's safe to say it's been an adventure.

"We bought it before I saw the inside of it," Drummond told Oklahoma's News Channel 4, "And, when I walked in, I was like, 'Honey, what are you thinking?'" However, despite its run-down start, the Merc is thriving. According to the news report, wait times for a table in the restaurant average two and a half hours.

"You know, I started my blog on a whim. It grew into something I'd never planned. Cookbooks came, and my TV show," Drummond said. "Never could I have pictured any of that happening." Much like her original blog, Drummond wants her space to be unique. She has thought about the user experience from start to finish. "We're trying to make it an experience for people who come. I think that's why we've had so much fun," she told Channel 4.

She's going to be portrayed in a movie by who?!

The thought of leaving everything behind for love and a simpler life is definitely appealing. A lot of us might be curious about that kind of drastic life change, so it should come as no surprise that Hollywood was interested too.

"Ree made a life that fit into this unexpected world in which she found herself," movie producer Laura Ziskin told The New Yorker. "When you look at the book, or you look at the cookbook, you think, 'I'd like to do that. I don't care if there's cow dung on the porch, it looks pretty good to me.'" Reese Witherspoon has already signed on to play Drummond, and it's safe to say we'll all be watching!