Peppermint Kings A Rural American History Dan Allosso

Yale Agrarian Studies Series
Publication date:
11 Aug 2020
Yale University Press
296 pages: 235 x 156 x 25mm
1 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

An unexplored, fascinating history of nineteenth-century agrarian life, told through the engaging lens of three families central to the peppermint oil industry

This unconventional history relates the engaging and unusual stories of three families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries whose involvement in the peppermint oil industry provides insights into the perspectives and concerns of rural people of their time. Challenging the standard paradigms, historian Dan Allosso focuses on the rural characters who lived by their own rules and did not acquiesce to contemporary religious doctrines, business mores, and political expediencies. The Ranneys, a secular family in a very religious time and place; the Hotchkisses, who ran banks and printed their own money while the Lincoln administration was eliminating state banking; and the Todd family, who incorporated successful business practices with populist socialism, all highlight the untold story of rural America’s engagement with the capitalist marketplace. The families’ atypical attitudes and activities offer unexpected perspectives on rural business and life.

Dan Allosso worked as a systems engineer, salesman, and manager in the technology private sector for two decades before returning to academia. Now an assistant professor at Bemidji State University, he teaches environmental history, U.S. history, and modern world history.

Peppermint Kings is an original and compelling story that makes for an important addition to American agricultural history.”—William Kerrigan, author of Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard: A Cultural History

“In this lively and interesting portrait of the Peppermint Kings, Dan Allosso offers new insights into early American agriculture in the Northeast.”—Cindy Ott, author of Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon

“Peppermint Kings is a crisply written, fast-paced, and expertly crafted narrative of how rural people grappled with the momentous changes of an emerging capitalist order.”—David Vaught, author of The Farmer’s Game: Baseball in Rural America

"Although “peppermint kings” sound like fairytale characters, Dan Allosso tells the real-life stories of these men. This fascinating journey across nineteenth-century rural America shows how such individuals decisively shaped U.S. history."—Edward Melillo, author of The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World