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The Super Luxe Story of Pineapples (and Why They used to Cost $ 8,000)

Although native to South America, pineapples (scientific name: Ananas comosus ) made their way to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, and here Christopher Columbus first discovered their spiky crowns in 1493. His crew brought pineapples back to Spain, where everyone loved how sweet this new exotic fruit tasted. They tried to grow them there, but because pineapples need a tropical climate to grow, Europeans haven't got very far. The only pineapples they could get their hands on had to be imported across the Atlantic, a time-consuming hike that often resulted in crushed, rotten fruit.

Later, in the middle of the 1

7th century, greenhouses were cultivated in a few pineapples in England and the Netherlands under conditions that mimicked the warm temperatures and humidity required for the production of the fruit. Due to the high demand and the limited supply, only the extremely rich pineapple could afford it. Monarchs such as Louis XV, Catherine the Great and Charles II (who even commissioned a painting by his gardener to hand him a pineapple) liked to eat the sweet fruits, and pineapples symbolized luxury and opulence.

Pineapples were no less worshiped in the American colonies in the 1700s. Imported from the Caribbean Islands, pineapples that arrived in America were very expensive – a pineapple could cost up to $ 8,000 (in today's dollars). These high costs were due to the perishability, novelty, exoticness and scarcity of the fruits. Wealthy colonists hosted dinner parties and showed a pineapple at the heart, a symbol of their wealth, hospitality, and status, which could be immediately recognized by the guests of a party. At that time, however, pineapples were mainly used for decoration and only eaten when they became lazy.

To underline how wasteful and extravagant pineapples were, consider the pineapple rental market. The fruit made the poor plebs without pineapple so jealous that people could pay to rent a pineapple for the night if they wanted to. Before selling for consumption, pineapple dealers rented pineapples to people who could not afford to buy them. Those who rented took the pineapples to parties not to give them to the host, but to demonstrate their obvious ability to afford such expensive fruits!

During the 18th and 19th centuries, artists depicted pineapple as a symbol of hospitality and generosity. Napkins, tablecloths, wallpaper, and even bed posts were decorated with pineapple drawings and carvings to make guests feel welcome. When people couldn't afford to buy or rent real fruit, they bought porcelain dishes and teapots in the shape of a pineapple that became very popular in the 1760s.

But moving forward until 1900, when industrialist James Dole opened a pineapple plantation in Hawaii, hoping to sell and distribute the fruit with his company, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which would later become the Dole Food Company has been. He was hugely successful – his Lana & # 39; i plantation produced more than 75 percent of the world's pineapple for seven decades – and the company is still strong. Love for the fruit has not waned (they are still a popular decoration motif), and Dole helped the pineapple evolve from overpriced luxury items to accessible treats for the masses.

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