Renting Pineapples

When Christopher Columbus brought pineapple from South America back to Spain it caused quite the sensation. Europeans had never experienced such a fruit before.

Attempts to grow pineapple in Europe failed, due to the fruit’s need for a tropical climate. This meant either relying on shipments from abroad-with fruit rarely surviving the long journey-or growing them in glass houses.

The coveted rarity of the pineapple led to exorbitant prices. It wasn’t uncommon to spend $8000 in today’s money on one perishable pineapple.

The pineapple became such a status symbol they were even rented out by the night. The affluent could rent a pineapple to take to dinner parties, not to eat, but to carry around as a sign of their wealth. Sort of like a Gucci purse, only pricklier. And sweeter. And more prone to eventual rot.

Pineapples soon became the subject of art on paintings, linens, napkins and even bedposts.

It wasn’t until 1900 when James Dole started a pineapple plantation in Hawaii, and perfected the means to distribute the fruit worldwide, that pineapples started to become readily accessible to the masses. His company Dole would go on to produce 75 percent of the pineapples consumed globally.

Something to think about the next time you crack a tin of tidbits!