In the world of commodity markets, where millions of eggs are traded every day, few traders had time for onions. Not until 1942 was the onion even listed on Chicago's big, bustling Mercantile Exchange, and there was so little interest (a mere 600 carlots traded v. 19,000 carlots of eggs) that it was subsequently dropped.

But last week the lowly onion was back with a rush; it was the hottest commodity* on the exchange and had pushed aside such heavily traded commodities as butter & eggs. Hour after hour, shirtsleeved brokers bid high & fast fof November futures, sending the...

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