Sweet yet a little sour, pineapples are one of my favorite fruits. I often ate canned pineapples but since moving to Hawaii, I’ve been able to eat freshly picked pineapples often, making them a part of my daily life in Hawaii. Today, I’d like to talk about the famous pineapples here on Oahu.
Pineapple got its name from its exterior skin that is hard and similar in appearance to that of a pine cone and its apple-like sweet smell. It originated in South America and was introduced to Europe as an exotic fruit by Columbus. In New England sailors took them home with them as having fresh pineapple in one’s pouch became a symbol of welcoming customers.
In America, serving pineapple at a party was of utmost extravagance and a sign of hospitality. It was President George Washington’s favorite fruit but since it was so rare, he made a pinery (a greenhouse for growing pineapples) at his house in Mount Vernon.
Although it is debated as to who and when pineapples were first introduced to Hawaii, in the beginning of the 1800s, Spanish advisor to King Kamehameha, Don Francisco de Paula y Marin, was successful at cultivating pineapple on the islands.
Gardener John Kidwell was the first entrepreneur to start a pineapple industry in Hawaii. In the 1800s he imported and experimented with a variety of pineapple shoots to see which one was the best for commercial cultivation. He created a canning system and exported his canned pineapple to San Francisco. Later, James Dole immigrated to Hawaii and expanded the pineapple industry. He made pineapple cultivation the largest industry in Hawaii at the time, and the fruit which was once thought to be exotic and unusual became something that every family could easily eat.