Pineapples: From Luxury Good to Everyday Food

By Eunice Tibay
On March 1, 2018

Eunice Tibay
Staff Writer

Pineapples are delicious, and they are on the list of fruits I really love.

I am also Team Pineapples on Pizza.

That said, there is one thing about pineapples I would like to talk about; and no, I am not going to argue about why pineapples being on pizza is fine, as passionate as I am about the subject.

That discussion is for another day.

Moving on to my actual topic: some time last year, I found out that people in 16th-18th century Europe were obsessed with the pineapple, and it was, in fact, a symbol of status and power due to its rarity and sky-high price tag.

Considering how common it is to consume pineapple today, I found it surprising that this fruit was once a luxury good meant to show off how rich and powerful someone is to be able to afford such an exotic fruit from the New World.

For those who weren’t as wealthy, there were also pineapples available for rent, simply for display at parties, and also, again, to show off to guests how much money the renter had.

The pineapple obsession was wild.

Artists began incorporating the pineapple to their art, and put them in napkins, wallpapers, and even as the roof of a mansion. Look up Dunmore Pineapple on Google. You won’t regret it.

King Charles II of England even commissioned an artist to paint a gardener presenting him the exotic fruit.

In addition to that, pineapples were also symbols of hospitality and could be found decorating the gathering areas of large homes.

But why was the pineapple so expensive?

Pineapples only grow in certain areas with tropical climates like Brazil and the Caribbean.

One of the only places in Europe that successfully grew pineapples were greenhouses in England and the Netherlands.

The process of bringing the fruit back to Europe from the New World was pretty expensive.

High demand and low supply pretty much cemented the pineapple’s fate as a fruit for the rich and powerful.

Then James Dole, the Pineapple King, happened.

Dole began a pineapple plantation in Hawaii in the dawn of the 20th century with the hopes of being able to produce and distribute the fruit to the world through his company, which eventually became the fruit company that we know today: Dole.

To make the long story short, he was successful in doing so.

Now, we are able to enjoy pineapples without the need of selling a limb just to be able to shout to the world, "I own a glorious pineapple!"

So the next time you buy or eat a pineapple, remember that many people in history would be very glad to be in your place if it meant they could own a piece of that sweet and sour fruit too.

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