Ye Jolly Onion Inn, Pine Island NY 1990s Menu Art
Ye Jolly Onion Inn, Pine Island NY 1990s Menu

Ye Jolly Onion Inn, Pine Island NY 1990s

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Product Description

Vincent Kosuga (1915 – 2001) was born and raised in Pine Island, New York, where he owned a 5,000-acre black dirt farm that grew onions celery and lettuce. The term black dirt comes from the dark and fertile soil left over from a glacial lake in the area.

Farming is an unpredictable business, however, and Kosuga began trading onion futures and splitting his time between New York and Chicago.

A wily trader, he once bribed a weather bureau to issue a fake frost warning to inflate the price of futures contracts that he owned. But nothing compared to his plan that came to be called the Great Onion Corner.

In 1955, Kosuga and his partner Sam Seigel plotted to corner the market in onion futures. They bought so many onions and onion futures that they held 98 per cent of the Chicago market. That year, they stockpiled 30 million pounds of onions (14 million kg). So many farmers from all over the US sent them onions that many states experienced shortages.

Thus, Kosuga became an Onion Mogul and could set any price he wanted for onions, and he set the price high - $2.75 a bag.

Then he began to flood the market with onions – some of them were going bad so he had them cleaned and repackaged. The absurd oversupply of onions caused the value of a bag to drop to just 10c.

Traders who had taken long positions and agreed to buy onions from Kosuga at $2.76 a bag lost a bundle - and many of the onions were dumped in the Chicago River.

Kosuga made $8.5m – about $85 million in today’s figures.’ If it’s against the law to make money …then I’m guilty,’ he said.

The US Senate Committee on Agriculture held hearings on the matter and the Onions Futures Act was passed. To this day, it is illegal to trade futures in onions.

What does this have to do with a menu, you might ask? After the futures market on onions was reformed, Kosuga went back to Pine Island and opened Ye Jolly Onion Inn, where he served as chef, in 1961.

The restaurant became a beloved landmark and had banqueting facilities for weddings. Kosuga became a respected local philanthropist.

Two other owners followed. The restaurant closed in 2008 and reopened again in 2018. Ye Jolly Onion closed again in 2023. 

Gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson archival inks. Custom printed with border for matting and framing.

Each order includes a print of the interior menu.

All printed in USA.

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