Pineapples were a sign of wealth in the 18th Century
Christopher Columbus first spotted this valued fruit in 1493. She spotted the pineapple on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Columbus took the fruit back to Spain where everyone loved how exotic it tasted. The Europeans tried to grow it in their land. But this was not possible since pineapples need a tropical climate to grow.
In the mid-17th Century, pineapples were grown in greenhouses in England and the Netherlands. They were grown in conditions that imitated the warm temperatures and humidity levels needed. Since they were high in demand but low in supply, only the extremely rich could afford to buy it. Rulers such as Louis XV, Catherine the Great, and Charles II were the only people who could afford it. Pineapples came to be a symbol of richness.
In the 1700s, America did not cherish the pineapples as much as the Europeans did. The pineapples, being imported from the Caribbean islands, were very expensive. One pineapple would cost as much as $8000. Rich colonists would throw dinner parties and pineapple would be the centerpiece. The pineapple would symbolize wealth, hospitality, and status. Pineapple would be used for décor purposes rather than meal purposes.
The pineapple had a rental market as well. The fruit brought about jealousy to the poor that they paid to rent the pineapple for a night. The pineapple merchants would rent them out to people who would use them once per night. Those who rented it would take the pineapple to parties but not give it out as a gift. They would show it off to show that they can afford the expensive and lavish fruit.
All around the 1700s and 1800s, artists would portray pineapples to symbolize hospitality and generosity. Drawings of the fruit were put in napkins, wallpaper, bedposts, and tablecloths. This was done to make guests feel welcome. For those who could not afford to buy or rent the fruit, they purchased porcelain dishes and teapots that were in the shape of a pineapple. This idea was much popular in the 1760s.
Hope for pineapple lovers
In 1900, an industrialist, James Dole, started a plantation in Hawaii. He was hoping to sell and distribute the fruit. He became successful and produced more than 75% of the world’s pineapple. He became the number one industrialist who helped in ending the era of expensive pineapples.
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