Utopia

We started taking the kids to Sweet Tomato when our son was about 3 and our daughter was still small enough we could carry her into the restaurant in her car seat. We figured the food was mostly health and it was already prepared…no waiting around for the food to be delivered to our table. Waiting in restaurants can be a test of patience for parents with small children, and we didn’t want to mess with it. Because this has been our “go to” for so long, now that our kids are nearly seven and a little over four, respectively, when we ask where they want to eat, we usually already know what they will say…”Sweet Tomato.” Needless to say, we eat there about two or three times a month.

I try to teach my AP US History students that the history of our country is all around us, and even though I’ve been teaching social studies for 13 years, it’s still fun for me to find practical examples of history in life. (Yes, I’m that nerdy. I came to terms with it a long time ago, and it’s okay.)

In the 1820s until about the start of the Civil War, there were a series of reform movements throughout the United States (and many places in Europe) as people, for various reasons attempted to change the world around them. Some were abolitionists. Some were in favor of women’s rights. Others were temperance workers. There was even education reform. And I almost forgot…the Graham Cracker was invented as a dietary supplement. Inspired by the ideas of the Second Great Awakening, many of those involved in the reforms used religion as a means and an end to their causes. Thinking that the second coming of Christ was eminent, they felt the need to change (and in some cases perfect) society before the end of days.

Some of those involved in the reforms took the idea of human perfection to extreme levels by setting up what are now collectively referred to in US History as Utopian communities. There were over one hundred different communal societies established in the United States during the period representing various views on how people should live and interact with one another. Most of these societies believed in community property because they felt having possessions caused more problems than it was worth. (Some of the groups applied the idea of community property to marriages within their societies as well.) Overall, the Utopian communities attempted to created perfect societies that could be then models for others to follow.

One of the more successful (in terms of longevity) of these Utopian societies was Oneida Community, established in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes. Noyes essentially forbade sin, and he believed that the members of his community could (and did) reach a state of perfection. For reasons that you can probably imagine (or read about yourself) the community disbanded in 1880.

As I was eating at Sweet Tomato recently, I looked down and noticed the name etched into my knife…Oneida. About the time the community was falling apart, the members created a company, Oneida Limited, that is not only still in existence, but it is one of the largest providers (under various other names) of silverware and dinnerware in the country. So when Oneida came to a fork in the road, they decided to make more.

One thought on “Utopia

  1. Interesting! and clever ending.

    (Yes, I’m that nerdy. I came to terms with it a long time ago, and it’s okay.)… haha, I love when we can laugh at ourselves. The other day, my husband and I disagreed with me stating, “What are you a rocket scientist?” (and stopped short, realizing he has an engineering degree in Aerospace) and just before he responded, “never mind, don’t answer that.” sigh.

    Oh, and now I don’t feel guilty about giving my kids graham crackers. 🙂 Thanks, this has been a rewarding visit!

    Looking forward to more of your posts.

    Like

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