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OP: Larkin Housewives' Cook Book

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by Larkin Company

At one time the Larkin Company of Buffalo, New York (1875–1942) was among the largest manufacturers and door-to-door sellers of household goods in the United States. One element in its success was its use of premiums—little gifts given to buyers, often packaged with the product. Ranging from handsome color prints to towels and handkerchiefs, these “extras” earned them considerable loyalty and were even actively collected. 

Particularly known was a cookbook made up of recipes contributed by customers. Initiated in 1915, the Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book went through many editions until the late 1920s. Not surprisingly, Larkin products were recommended wherever possible, but the recipes, as it turns out, are an excellent source of information on no-nonsense American home cooking, uncolored by fancy French or other “foreign” influences. 

So we see Michigan hash, lobster wiggle, cabbage cream slaw, sour milk griddle cakes, sweet pickled cherries, hickory nut cake, cranberry pudding—and some six hundred others. All the recipes are highly condensed, assuming the reader knows how to cook and “gets it” without too much hand-holding. Not a sophisticated book, by any means, but one that is filled with discoveries. Charming little drawings are scattered through the text and at the head of each of the 20-plus chapters.

Our copy, a 1916 edition, is in Very Good condition, though we have had the endpapers replaced. The lightly tanned pages are clean and unmarked, save for a stain on a rear flyleaf.

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