The Yankee Boom started with the Belgian Hare
The ARBA was founded slightly after a period known as the Belgian Hare Boom. Prior to 1898, there were very few domestic of “tame” rabbits in the United States. 1898 sparked the beginning, a three-year period that got Americans hooked on raising rabbits – specifically the Belgian Hare. During these three years (1898-1900), Americans visited England and secured large shipments of Hares to the US. Records show these rabbits were selling for $100 and up, $3000 in today’s money. The British referred to this as the Yankee Boom and would often export animals that were sick, inferior, or didn’t meet their standard.
People in all walks of life invested in Hares. England was shipping dozens of Hares weekly to the states for large amounts of money, and thousands over the three years. Many US breeders were excited to exhibit their Hares at the Chicago Show of 1899, but it is noted in a Belgian Hare guidebook that the top Hare only placed fifth as many of the rabbits shipped to the US were culls. The Pet Stock Journal published in Los Angeles in 1900 commented on the Belgian Hare industry, “No one but a fool will deny that the Belgian Hare industry has advanced at a more rapid rate than any other livestock industry. Unknown 2 years ago as a source of meat supply, it is now a feature in our markets.”
ARBA Secretary Charles S. Gibson would later write, “The boom quickly died out on account of the snuffles, high prices, and dishonest breeders.” Many rabbit breeders became less enthusiastic or dropped out between 1900-1911.