Remember that moment when you’re watching The Empire Strikes Back and you think you know someone and he turns out to be Luke Skywalker’s father? Fruits do that too. Not all fruits, but some. Way too much for me to ever trust fruits again, I fear.
But since fruits are good for you, we’ll forget this slight betrayal. Let’s take a look at some fruits with a history that may or may not surprise you. I honestly have no idea how easily you’re surprised. I’m not a psychic.
New Zealanders are called “kiwis”, the fruit is named after the kiwi bird which is indigenous to New Zealand. Yet kiwifruits are originally from China. They were first named “Chinese gooseberries” but since the Cold War happened, they needed a non-China name for the fruit so they could export it.
First of all: yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit. They’re part of the well-known toxic nightshade family, so the tomato was all but ignored for over two centuries. This wasn’t because of its shining red looks, however. Eating tomatoes on pewter plates (which was common back when the television didn’t exist) released a deadly combination where the tomato’s acidity released lead from the plate, causing whoever ate it to die.
The Chili Peppers
No, not the band. Chili peppers are actually spicy to prevent animals from eating them. Since humanity is stupid, we grew even more spicy variants. In the olden days of the Aztecs and Maya however, chilies were pretty much eaten with everything. And they were used as a form of medicine or a children’s punishment.
The strawberry we all know today didn’t exist before the time of Louis XIV. The French had small strawberries and had heard of incredibly large Chilean strawberries. They tried to grow the big ones but the Chilean variant had a male and female plant. The males were culled as weeds because the Chileans didn’t want the French to recreate their fruit. When the French colonized North America, they were able to use a (bigger) Virginia variety to hybridize with the Chilean one, and that’s how today’s strawberries were born.
This is pretty funny. After the Ice Age, the megafauna that the avocado needs to fertilize were all but gone. In central America, the avocado was then grown because the fruit looked like testicles and they thought it was a potent aphrodisiac.
Before the pineapple was a lovely fruit to eat or put in an exotic cocktail, it was considered a treasure. It was a delight reserved for royalty and was literally held on a pedestal. It was considered an undeniable proof of wealth, pretty much like a Ferrari is now.
Early apples weren’t as sweet and tasty as we know them now. The original variants were actually pretty bitter overall. Now why would anyone eat a bitter apple? They didn’t – their main use was to be turned into apple cider. Apple cider was considered to be one of the most valuable beverages of early America. It’s only after the prohibition that apples had to be bred to be sweeter, since demand for apple cider plummeted.