I received the latest issue of The Baum Bugle, which largely focuses on The Patchwork Girl of Oz, first published in 1913. As such, it’s now the centennial of this book, the one I often consider to be my favorite of the series. I’ve written about many elements from it before, but one I haven’t said much about is the chapter that was cut out because the kids wouldn’t be able to handle it. At least that’s the story that’s generally told. Part of a letter from publisher Frank Reilly to L. Frank Baum reads, “We are inclined to believe it would be best to omit Chapter XXI, ‘The Garden of Meats.’ As we see it, this chapter is not at all essential to the movement of the story, and we do not think that the ideas therein are in harmony with your other fairy stories. If this chapter remains in the book we should fear (and expect) considerable adverse criticism.” Obviously this kind of talk just makes me want to read the excised chapter even more, but as far as I know it no longer exists. A few of John R. Neill’s illustrations of the episode did survive, however, and these show anthropomorphic vegetables growing human heads in a garden.
The general inference is that the vegetables grew the meat people (a term used for flesh-and-blood humans in the Oz series) to eat them, which could explain why Reilly found it objectionable.
It’s been pointed out that there are man-eating plants earlier in the book as well, and the identification of “The Garden of Meats” as Chapter Twenty-One suggests it originally appeared right after the encounter with Mr. Yoop, who also ate people.
Baum had previously written about vegetable people in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, although the Mangaboos apparently didn’t eat at all. And don’t forget that Patchwork Girl also contains the eerie episode with the mysterious house, which doesn’t involve eating people, but does suggest Baum might have been in a bit of a creepier mood than usual while writing the book. It WAS his return to Oz after trying to end the series for good. Maybe he felt like he was being cannibalized by the book-buying public or something. March Laumer provides an alternate interpretation of the garden in his Charmed Gardens, making it a place where extra human body parts are grown.
I found most of this information on the chapter in an article by Dick Martin that was originally printed in the Christmas 1966 issue of the Bugle. He mentions another picture that didn’t appear in the finished book, this one of a woman with an eel, and wonders if it has any connection to the Garden of Meats.
Laumer also includes this woman in his visit to the garden. Actually, this is pretty obviously the wife of the lazy Quadling, who is described in Chapter Twenty-Five as having gone fishing for red eels but only caught one. I’m not sure why the picture was omitted when the character remained in the text, but J.L. Bell speculates that it wouldn’t have fit into the format for that chapter and wouldn’t have made sense anywhere else.
Baum apparently originally planned to replace the Garden of Meats chapter with “a meeting with the Marshmallow Twins, who are to appear in another story.” This didn’t appear in the finished book either, likely because Neill didn’t want to draw any more pictures for it. This other story with the Twins has never materialized either, so we don’t know whether Baum ever really wrote about them or not. Interestingly, the phrase “marshmallow twins” gets quite a few hits on Google, including some about baseball and some pictures of cats and dogs. What I can’t find out, however, is what it actually means. It sounds like a kind of candy, but I have no evidence that such is the case.