Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks

When looking for a recipe these days, you’re only a few clicks away from finding a plethora of tantalising recipes to choose from. But while cookbooks are still going strong in the 21st century, the secrets to culinary offerings from all over the world weren’t so widely available to the masses, and normal folk would have to make do with their pig nose stew. Here we look at some of the earliest cookbooks around, which also happen to be among the rarest on the planet…

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
Feeding the Lions, An Algonquin Cook Book

10 – Feeding the Lions

Feeding the Lions, a two hundred and fifty-page cookbook by Frank Case was first published in 1942. This hardcover book bound in red cloth offers a choice of hints and recipes by the manager of Algonquin Hotel. It is a highly sought after American cookbook which is filled with famous people and humour; making it both informative and enjoyable. The price for this rare book is $300.00.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
The Mary Frances Cook Book: Adventures Among the Kitchen People

9 – The Mary Frances Cook Book

This cookbook was one of the first cookbooks given to a child with a great storyline and superb illustrations. It was first published in 1912 with easy recipes for any child to follow. The very rare hardcover book is one hundred and seventy-five pages of easy recipes which were one of the first cookbooks given to any child. This rare book is priceless.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
How to Cook a Wolf

8 – How to Cook a Wolf

How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher was first published in 1942 and is two hundred and sixty-one pages of easy to follow recipes. The cookbook was published during the wartime shortages, with the intention of helping people come up with delicious dishes and a chance to experiment with what they had available in the kitchen. While it’s widely sought after for its historic value, the book goes for a comparatively modest $87.00.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise

7 – La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise

This cookbook was first published in 1746 (complete with illustrations), and penned by the mysterious Menon (see what he did there). It’s unknown why the author went under an anonymous pseudonym, but this French family cookbook has gone on to become one of the rarest cookbooks on earth, selling for stonking $1,751.43.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

6 – The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book was published in 1954 by an author who was an American living in France and offers a selection of Bohemian recipes from Paris; including a delicious Hashisch Fudge (not to be confused with the illegal stuff). This book offers great French recipes and is suitable for cooks on all levels. The book retails for around $447.00.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
A Handbook of Cookery for a Small House

5 – A Handbook of Cookery for a Small House

This rare hard cover cookbook was originally published in 1923 and is highly sought after by foodies and avid collectors from around the world. The book offers great recipes that are easy to follow for the smaller household and sells for around £118.00.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
Fancy Ices by Mrs A. B. Marshall

4 – Fancy Ices by Mrs A.B Marshall

Penned by the then dubbed ‘Queen of Ices’. Fancy Ices is a very old and rare cookbook dating back to 1910. As well as great recipes, the book also includes eighty-six mouth-watering illustrations; offering easy to follow step by step instructions for both sweet and savoury (you guessed it) ices. This cookbook sells for £250.00.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
Five Roses CookBook: Bread, Pastry, etc

3 – Five Roses Cook Book

The Five Roses Cook Book is a Classic Canadian Cookbook dating back to 1915 and filled with a selection of great and interesting recipes. The book is a hardcover and is highly sought after. No price is available for this sought after cookbook.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management

2- Beeton’s Book of Household Management

The Beeton’s Book of Household Management was written in twenty-four parts, which were then bound together and published in 1861. Even back then the book was so in demand that it sold over 60,000 copies within the first year. The book is so rare, that a price tag isn’t available.

Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks
The Vital Question Cookbook

1 – The Vital Question

The Vital Question dates back to 1908 and offers general cooking tips, along with easy to follow recipes mainly around wheat and the importance of including wheat in your diet. But why wheat? Well, it was actually a sneaky marketing strategy; courtesy of the Natural Food Company who used the book as a way to educate folks to the benefits of their Shredded Wheat product. There are not many of these books in circulation today, but if you are lucky enough to find one you will be the owner of a rare hardbound cookbook.

71 thoughts on “Top 10 Strange, Unusual and Rare Cookbooks”

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  2. This is so cool, my old nan has 2 of these cookbooks! Time to get the valued and keep them safe I think.

  3. Having looked up some of the recipes in these books it is no wonder people binned them and the few remaining become rare!

  4. has anyone heard of Golden Rule Bazaar
    published expressly for the patrons of GOLDEN RULE BAZAAR
    San fransico, Cal. Portland,oregon copyright 1892

  5. Reblogged this on Bound 4 Escape and commented:
    There are some interesting cookbooks here. I really enjoy going through boxes of old books like these. You never know when you’re going to find a treasure.

  6. Oh my! I have to say that for some reason I would like to try some of those. (please note that I did say ‘some’ of those) Thank you for the updated info.

  7. Several books one of which I will share with you. Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings with drawings by Robert Camp. Copyright 1942 Charles Schribner’s Sons. Jellied Tongue of Beef, Cow-peas? And the explanation of cow peas is thus: (something that is definitely bigotted and you know is obviously southern) Marjorie mentions in the explanation of Cow Peas: “I am Sometimes guilty of planting my sixteen-acre hay-field to whippoorwill instead of ordinary field peas, so that the colored folks may have their fill, even though the resulting cow pea hay is not so desirable.” See what I mean..Other recipes Coot Surprise. Black-bird Pie (Which in the book is said to be illegal), Turtles and Gophers, Syllabub ( A Liquored Dessert), Corn Pone, Fordhook ( Lima Beans) Haha this book takes place in Florida. Sounds like a plantation.

  8. My uncle is an avid collector of cookbooks. I have quite a few myself. He actually gave me a set, that later he found out that it was worth quite a bit. Because of it being a first edition with writing in it from the Author. I think they show how much history has changed. Ingredients, how we cook things. They are more important than most think.

  9. I have it open now. Some of the things I’ve made from it include victoria buns and christmas cake. I’ve yet to try jugged hare or boiled rabbit, although we had rabbit a lot as kids, until we realised what it was.

  10. I have a Mrs Beetons Cookbook that I rescued from destruction. It is in very poor condition but I still use it. You never know when you may want to make tongue in aspic.

  11. I had to go look.I have a reprint of Ladies’ Indispensable Assistant-1852, reprint of Housekeeping in Old Virginia-1879, 1992 reprint of Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook.
    Then it is Meals from the Manse-1950, Cuisine Moderne et Vielles Recettes-1962 and a gift from my grandmother– Fun to Cook Book-1967.

  12. True, but it might be interesting to see what else is in there. As I do not eat dog maybe switching that protein would be a good idea…lol.

  13. You may of hit on a sore point about these books there Ronata, I think many of them will contain things that these days people wouldn’t eat in a million years, one of them being dog meat.

  14. I want all of them. People should share some of the recipes in those books for free 🙂 They may be rare but are they good?

  15. everything started out cool with all the top 10, until I got to the youtube ad area of topless David Hasselhoff in some Baywatch

  16. There’s a show on Hulu called “the supersizers go ” where they recreate and act out meals from different time periods and a few of these cookbooks where used to create meals. They covered wartime England and rationing in the 30’s and a few other ones. It’s a cool show

  17. I think the Mary Frances Cookbook is my favorite. The cover illustration is cute. I need to find my Cookbook for Girls and Boys from the 50s. Not as old as these but probably collectable by now!

  18. Oh yes, she was creative and she enjoyed experimenting. Now with dementia, she doesn’t remember much of it. There was nothing so lovely as coming home from school and finding her baking cookies.

  19. Very cool blog, I love top ten lists and your site gives them to me all the time! Glad I found your blog and I look forward to more of your posts! Perhaps a top ten of independent comic books (shameless plug here) as a matter of fact I have an independent comic book that We’re producing that could possibly be considered? I can send you a digital copy if interested. Keep up the great work!

  20. My Mom always cooked using The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Farmer – 1938. She also used the American Woman’s Cook Book by Ruth Berolzheimer – also 1938. The other standby by was The Joy of Cooking by Erma Rombauer. She used them until they are literally falling apart. I’m not big on cooking as Mom was so I am going to make sure my younger sister takes them – I know they will go to a good home.

  21. My mom purchased me a re-publication of her favorite cookbook – here’s the gems included in it:
    “How to time your dinner – For weeknights, plan your dinner around dishes that will stay warm and tasty while you ensure your children are bathed and scrubbed before coming to the dinner table, you will have time to change to a fresh apron, don your pearls and mix the martini before your hard-working husband comes home from his grueling job.” (yes I paraphrased – but just a bit, mind you)

    LOL – it also gave tips on how to plan a party menu that does not need servers, in case your maid is on vacation or you find yourself understaffed ….


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