What's up the Amana colony?

Here’s their homepage.

Here’s their press info page. The photos are priceless as are the “facts and figures.”


Bolding mine

Are they anachronistic zealots or pragmatic purveyors of the past’s pulchritude?

It’s not keeping with the speerit of communalism to hog all the “p” words for yourself, dude.

I wouldn’t call them zealots at all. The Amanas are a very nice place to visit. Quaint, but a little touristy. They don’t follow you around trying to convert you to communism or anything. My mom, who’s a German teacher, would take her students there to visit the museums and stuff, and have dinner at a restaurant that served reasonably authentic German family-style meals.

They have this insane fabric store, with, like four floors. Mom made my wedding dress out of an eyelet fabric she found there.

The Amana Colonies, really a cluster of five or six villages and the surrounding highly fertile farmland, were not the only utopian communities set up in the first part of the 19th Century. It was, however, one of the more successful efforts. It did just fine until the Great Depression when the lousy farm economy pretty much drove it into the ground. It was held together by family ties and by the church and common interdependence.

The Amanas are not and never were Amish. Their faith was pretty much mainline German Anabaptist. There was no insistence on the faithful seperating themselves from the world or expulsion of members who did not conform to the religious and social dictates of elders. It was an agricultural commune that failed for economic reasons. After the Great Parting it turned into a prosperous farming community with its own manufacturing industry – Amana refrigerators.

Today it is still a prosperous farming community with a factory (lately bought out from the Amana Society by Maytag) and a heavy overlay of tourism. It was sort of a local jewel until the Interstate Highways came through. A wonderful place to get a traditional German meal, buy a little locally made wine and beer, locally woven woolens and craftsman high value furniture. Think of it as a Midwestern Colonial Williamsburg. A serious effort has been made at Main Amana, the largest and most central of the villages, to preserve the architecture, cottage industry and ambiance of the 19th Century commune. Many of the restaurants are the old community dinning halls.

Disregard the commercial rip off at the Interstate exit. Get off I 80 and go just a few miles north on the state highway and you will be in the middle of the real thing. Have a dinner of Saurbraten and Spaetzel, have a local beer, buy a blanket or a muffler, explore the soft brick buildings and the huge barns. Leave your money. Avoid the dandelion wine.

Don’t forget the excellent smoked-meat products, also available by mail order. I’m going to be back in Iowa later this month and will definitely return with some summer sausage (it being summer).

What’s up the Amana Colony?” Really now…

And YES the Amana appliance company is located there making ranges, fridges, washers and dryers.

I should never have started this. The weekend is coming. I’ll see if I can talk Mrs. Gelding into a quick trip just for a dinner of smoked pork chops, sauerkraut, cottage fried potatoes, dark bread, and a Millstream Beer followed by a humongous piece of German Chocolate cake and strong, black coffee. At my age gluttony is about the only vice I have left – The Old Ox Yoke Inn is the place to exercise that guilty desire. Maybe we can meet the kids and the grandbaby.

“Well some of them started dressing up as mice a bit … and then when they’d got the costumes on they started … squeaking.”

Yes. The Mouse Problem . This week ‘The World Around Us’ looks at the growing social phenomenon of Mice and Men. What makes a man want to be a mouse.

I live right down the road from the Amanas. A chunk of it has gone commercial. They even have a water slide park–the Wasserbahn.

I think a lot of it is overhyped. The food is lousy, IMHO. Iowa Amish don’t know how to cook–it’s all bland. My mom is 100% Pennsylvania Dutch, and I know what good Amish cooking is supposed to taste like. You can’t get it in the Amanas.

I’m sure there are quite nice parts of it, but I don’t think of it as a vacation spot–more like a day trip. That website makes it sound like a resort community.

Seconded. I love sweet wines, but the sweet dandelion was like syrup. I hated it.

Oh God, some of those wines are terrible. And even good sweet wine often leaves you with the urge to hurl.

Because if it doesn’t say Amana - it’s not a RadaRange!

You can get a half a buzz on by going from store to store sampling the wines. Try two or three different ones at a time.Its free.

I went with a friend this last Christmas because she wanted to get her brother some dandelion wine–he was curious to try it. We tried everything in the shop two or three times, and they have about a zillion different kinds. We were both so buzzed when we left that we had to walk around the parking lot for awhile.

Can I get a pour here!?!

This was my take too. The glitzy marketing viewed against the backdrop of the colony’s austere beginnings is sorta oogy.

For the second time, the Amana Colonists were not and are not, now or ever, Amish. The original settlers were German Anabaptists from (I think) Swabia, the hill country between Stuttgart and Augsburg. They immigrated first to NY and then to Iowa (where land was cheap) in the years just before and after the Revolutions of 1848. They have no cultural or spiritual connection to the Pennsylvania Dutch, at all.

Their food is lousy Amish cooking because it is not Amish cooking. It is South German Peasant cooking. It is bland because that how South German Peasants liked their food. It is like French Country Cuisine, just not as fashionable, and with lots more brown gravy and with pig lard substituted for goose grease (makes a great pie crust, by the way).

You would think that a guy from Iowa City would know that. The Amanas are, after all, only 25 or 30 miles down the Interstate. If you want Amish cooking go south to Kolona or north to Hazelton. Same with watching farm work done with horses and houses lit with kerosene lanterns. In The Amanas they have tractors and electric lights. Kids from The Amanas go to college at Iowa City and Ames and Cedar Falls. Amish kids go to college, if they go at all, at Goshen Bible College, Goshen, Indiana. Nobody in the Amana Colonies is named Yoder. They are not Amish, Old Order, Conservative, Reformed, Shunned, Accepted or any thing else. They are not Mennonites of any persuasion, either. They are German Anabaptist, although most are mainstream Lutherans now.


(Being local, I got this.)

Four floor fabric store, you say? :eek:

Must. Go. To. Amana. Colony.

It should be noted that Amana Appliance Co. was bought a long time ago by Raytheon Corp. and has since been sold to Maytage Corp., the current owners.