what does sinclair mean he says "they were regular alchemist at durham's"
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This quote refers to to the fact that Durham canned goods were made from anything other than what their names suggested. Thus, the people at Durham canned goods were magicians.
"... so Jurgis learned a few things about the great and only Durham canned goods, which had become a national institution. They were regular alchemists at Durham's; they advertised a mushroom-catsup, and the men who made it did not know what a mushroom looked like. They advertised "potted chicken,"—and it was like the boardinghouse soup of the comic papers, through which a chicken had walked with rubbers on. Perhaps they had a secret process for making chickens chemically—who knows?"