Celebrating Alice B. Toklas - An Unlikely Pioneer in Cannabis Edibles

In the vibrant tapestry of early 20th-century Paris, where art, literature, and radical ideas flourished, Alice B. Toklas emerged as an intriguing figure. Known primarily as the life partner of celebrated author Gertrude Stein, Toklas played a crucial role behind the scenes, hosting a renowned salon that brought together some of the most influential artists and writers of the time. However, her legacy extends far beyond her association with Stein. Toklas left an indelible mark on both the culinary and cannabis communities through her iconic "The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book," which inadvertently popularized cannabis edibles with its now-famous hashish fudge recipe.

As we celebrate Pride Month, it's fitting to honor Toklas not only for her culinary contributions but also for her pioneering role in LGBTQ+ history. Her life and work reflect a remarkable blend of cultural innovation and personal resilience, offering inspiration and insight into the rich intersection of food, cannabis, and queer identity. This blog post delves into Alice B. Toklas's journey, exploring how she became an accidental icon in the world of cannabis edibles and a significant figure in the fight for LGBTQ+ visibility.

Early Life and Partnership with Gertrude Stein

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Alice B. Toklas was born on April 30, 1877, in San Francisco, California, into a middle-class Jewish family. Her early years were marked by a strong interest in literature and the arts, which eventually led her to the cultural epicenter of Paris. In 1907, Toklas moved to Paris, where she soon met Gertrude Stein, an American writer and art collector. This meeting was the beginning of a lifelong partnership that would leave a significant mark on both the literary and artistic worlds.

Toklas and Stein quickly became inseparable, forming a partnership that was both romantic and intellectual. Their home in Paris became a famed salon, a gathering place for the avant-garde of the time. Artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were regular visitors. This salon was not just a social hub but a crucible for the exchange of radical ideas and artistic innovations.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas declared themselves married in 1910, a bold declaration at a time when same-sex relationships were largely hidden from public view. Their relationship was characterized by mutual respect and intellectual collaboration. Toklas was not just Stein’s partner but also her confidante, editor, and supporter. She played a crucial role in Stein’s literary career, managing their household and ensuring that Stein had the freedom to write and create.

Toklas’s influence extended beyond her role as Stein’s partner. She was a notable figure in her own right, known for her sharp wit, intelligence, and keen observations of the cultural and social milieu of Paris. Her contributions to the cultural life of the time were significant, even if they were often overshadowed by Stein’s more prominent public persona.

The couple’s relationship and the vibrant cultural life they fostered in their Paris home provided a rich backdrop for Toklas’s later work. This environment, steeped in creativity and intellectual exchange, set the stage for Toklas’s contributions to culinary history, particularly her now-famous cookbook. Their partnership is a testament to the power of love and intellectual companionship, breaking societal norms and providing a model for future generations of LGBTQ+ couples.

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

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After the death of Gertrude Stein in 1946, Alice B. Toklas found herself in a precarious financial situation as Stein's passing left her without the emotional and financial support she had relied on for decades. In an effort to sustain herself, Toklas turned to her passion for cooking and the rich culinary traditions she had cultivated over the years. This led to the creation of "The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book," published in 1954.

Genesis of the Cookbook

The idea for the cookbook was born out of necessity and love. Toklas, who had spent many years preparing meals for Stein and their circle of friends, decided to compile a collection of recipes that reflected their life together. The book would be more than just a cookbook; it was a memoir that provided a window into their world that included not only recipes but also anecdotes and stories about their life, friends, and the vibrant cultural scene of Paris.

Famous Recipe: Hashish Fudge

The most famous and controversial recipe in the cookbook is undoubtedly the hashish fudge. Contributed by her friend Brion Gysin, the recipe calls for cannabis, which was quite a bold and unconventional ingredient at the time. Gysin's recipe, described as "haschich fudge," was actually a variation on a traditional Moroccan confection known as majoun, which combines cannabis infused ghee with dried fruit and nuts.

Toklas included the recipe without fully understanding its psychoactive implications. Its inclusion eventually caught the attention of the media, particularly Time Magazine, which highlighted the hashish fudge in a 1954 article. Years later, this unexpected publicity turned Toklas into an accidental icon of the burgeoning cannabis culture as the hashish fudge recipe became a symbol of the 1960s counter-culture movement, representing a break from conventional norms and an embrace of alternative lifestyles.

Toklas's contributions through her cookbook highlight the intersection of food, culture, and cannabis, showcasing how culinary traditions can evolve and adapt to incorporate new and innovative ingredients. Her work continues to resonate, celebrating the richness of shared meals and the enduring legacy of her partnership with Stein.

Impact on Cannabis Culture

cannabis infused fudge recipe

Counter-Culture Icon

Alice B. Toklas's inclusion of the hashish fudge recipe in her cookbook inadvertently positioned her as a counter-culture icon in the 1960s. This recipe, a playful yet significant addition, resonated deeply with the burgeoning cannabis movement. It symbolized a break from conventional norms and an embrace of alternative lifestyles. The hashish fudge recipe was celebrated for its audacity and creativity, capturing the spirit of the times and offering a new way to enjoy cannabis.

The 1960s were a time of social upheaval and experimentation, and Toklas's recipe became a cultural touchstone. It was embraced by the counter-culture community, who saw it as a symbol of rebellion against mainstream values and an invitation to explore new experiences. The recipe's notoriety helped to demystify cannabis and highlight its potential for recreational use, contributing to the growing acceptance and popularity of cannabis edibles.

Edibles Revolution

By popularizing cannabis edibles, Alice B. Toklas helped pave the way for a new form of cannabis consumption. The hashish fudge recipe marked the beginning of a culinary revolution, introducing a novel method of ingesting cannabis that was both discreet and enjoyable. This shift had a lasting impact on the cannabis industry, which now includes a wide variety of edible products designed to cater to different tastes and preferences.

Today, cannabis edibles are a major part of the legal cannabis market. They offer an alternative to smoking or vaping, providing a method of consumption that is easier on the lungs and more socially acceptable in many contexts. Edibles also allow for precise dosing, making it easier for consumers to control their intake and tailor their experience. Toklas's hashish fudge recipe laid the groundwork for this evolution, demonstrating the versatility of cannabis and its potential as a culinary ingredient.

Cultural References

Alice B. Toklas's hashish fudge recipe has permeated popular culture, cementing her legacy in the cannabis community. One notable reference is the 1968 film "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!" starring Peter Sellers. In the movie, Sellers's character unwittingly consumes brownies laced with cannabis, leading to a comedic and transformative experience. The film brought Toklas's recipe to a wider audience, reinforcing her association with cannabis edibles and counter-culture.

Moreover, the phrase "Alice B. Toklas brownies" has become shorthand for cannabis-infused treats, a testament to the lasting impact of her recipe. This cultural reference underscores how Toklas's contribution transcended the culinary world, influencing social and cultural perceptions of cannabis.

Modern Cannabis Culture

In contemporary cannabis culture, Toklas is celebrated as a pioneer of cannabis edibles. Her cookbook continues to inspire chefs and cannabis enthusiasts, who experiment with new recipes and techniques to create a diverse array of cannabis-infused foods. The principles Toklas embodied—creativity, innovation, and a willingness to explore the unknown—are still relevant today, guiding the evolution of cannabis cuisine.

The legalization of cannabis in various regions has further expanded the market for edibles, making them more accessible to consumers. Companies now produce a wide range of cannabis-infused products, from chocolates and gummies to beverages and gourmet meals. This thriving industry owes a debt to Toklas, whose hashish fudge recipe demonstrated the culinary potential of cannabis and helped normalize its use.

Alice B. Toklas's impact on cannabis culture is profound and enduring. Her hashish fudge recipe not only revolutionized the way people consume cannabis but also symbolized a broader cultural shift towards acceptance and experimentation. As we celebrate her legacy, we recognize the important role she played in the history of cannabis edibles and the ongoing evolution of cannabis culture.

Pride Month Relevance

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Celebrating Alice B. Toklas during Pride Month is particularly fitting because her legacy intersects both the LGBTQ+ and cannabis communities. Toklas’s life with Stein is a testament to the power of love and partnership in the face of societal prejudice. Their relationship challenged norms and provided a beacon of hope and possibility for future generations.

Moreover, Toklas’s contributions to the culinary world, especially her famous hashish fudge recipe, highlight the intersection of LGBTQ+ culture and the counter-culture movements of the 20th century. The inclusion of cannabis in her cookbook was a revolutionary act that resonated with the rebellious spirit of the 1960s and beyond, linking her legacy to broader themes of liberation and personal freedom.

During Pride Month, it is important to honor the pioneers who paved the way for greater acceptance and visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals. Alice B. Toklas, through her life and work, exemplifies the courage and creativity that have fueled progress in both LGBTQ+ rights and cannabis culture. By celebrating her legacy, we acknowledge the rich tapestry of history that has shaped our present and continue to inspire future generations.


Alice B. Toklas's contributions to culinary arts and cannabis culture are profound and multifaceted. Her cookbook not only introduced the world to cannabis edibles but also provided a deeply personal glimpse into her life with Gertrude Stein. This Pride Month, we celebrate Toklas for her pioneering spirit, her role in breaking societal norms, and her enduring influence on both the LGBTQ+ and cannabis communities. Through her legacy, we are reminded of the power of love, creativity, and the importance of living authentically.