The O.C. Kitchen

By the 1870s the O. C. kitchen prepared and served daily meals, mainly vegetarian, for more than 200 men, women and children.  And, in addition to providing daily meals for its many members, the Community also entertained visitors from near and far who flocked to Oneida, not only out of curiosity, but also to sample its renowned cooking.  O. C. strawberry shortcake was famous in its day!

The Community paper, The Circular, reported that the average cost of food per person in 1867 was $1.55 per week [$22.44 in 2009 dollars], which did not include the cost of preparing, serving and other kitchen related activities.  Food costs were probably kept so low because the Community maintained their own dairy and grew many varieties of fruits and vegetables.  In fact their abundant farms and fields provided the ingredients for their preserved fruits, jams and jellies which they sold throughout the area.  The income from these products added to the financial success of the Community which was mainly based on non-agrarian activities such as the production of animals traps and silk thread.

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