In the New Criterion, James Wolcott undertakes to actually review The Complete New Yorker (instead of copping out and ignoring the content in favor of the technology, as many lesser writers have done) and reaches an interesting insight about E. J. Kahn Jr.'s notorious series on grains:

The “Staffs of Life” series came to typify and symbolize the monumental tombstone tedium of the New Yorker fact piece at its most didactic-pedantic, and even now, decades later, I still hear the occasional chortle, “Remember when The New Yorker ran 50,000 words on grain?” I inserted disk two into the laptop to see if Kahn’s articles were as boring as I remembered, and, as I began to read, I realized that I never had read them, only given them a skim when they were originally published, having taken everybody’s word for how boring they were. I can’t say I was riveted, but the pieces were, I have to confess—interesting. Reams of research braided into elegant histories, and nothing to belittle.