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The Giant Frog Farms of the 1930s Were a Giant Failure

The American Frog Canning Company is a business name you'd expect to be a joke, like a company that would sell antiques or gag gifts. But it was real, and they sold frog legs. The company was founded by Albert Broel, and did really well in a niche business. But the supply of frogs brought in by hunters couldn't keep up with the demand. So Broel wrote a book on how to raise frogs for fun and profit, and advertised the idea of frog farming. In the 1930s, when so many people were desperate for income, this seemed like a wonderful business opportunity.

Broel was on the leading edge of what The New Yorker once called “the frog-farm craze of the thirties.” Newspapers across the country mentioned of the numerous letters they’d received asking for more information about raising frogs, and shared stories about frog entrepreneurs, from “society women” in Tennessee to a Japanese frog-raiser in Los Angeles. After Louisiana, Florida had perhaps the next most ambitious frog-farming operations. One, Southern Industries Inc., offered shares to northern investors in order to expand more quickly.

Among all these frog-minded people, Broel was a giant, “the nation’s largest individual producer of frog legs,” the Central Press reported, and a genius promoter of his product. He canned frog legs and “frog à la king,” and dreamed up recipes for Giant Frog Gumbo, American Giant Bullfrog Pie, Barbecued Giant Bullfrog Sandwiches, Giant Bullfrog Omelet, Giant Bullfrog Pineapple Salad, and more.

But like many get-rich-quick schemes, the one who profited the most was Broel. He created a supply of frogs for his canning business, and he was making money teaching others how to raise frogs. Meanwhile, many investors found that raising frogs is not as easy as they were led to believe. Read about the frog farm craze of the 1930s at Atlas Obscura.

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