THE HISTORY OF THE PINEAPPLEThe pineapple—fierce on the outside, sweet on the inside—was given its English name for its resemblance to a pine cone. Christopher Columbus brought this native of South America back to Europe as one of the exotic prizes of the New World. In later centuries, sailors brought the pineapple home to New England, where a fresh pineapple displayed on the porch meant that the sailor was home from foreign ports and ready to welcome visitors. Pineapples were the crowning glory of lavish American banquets, and were considered the height of extravagant hospitality. Even George Washington grew them in his Mount Vernon hothouse.
No one knows when the first pineapple (“halakahiki,” or foreign fruit, in Hawaiian) arrived in Hawai‘i. Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish adventurer who became a trusted advisor to King Kamehameha the Great, successfully raised pineapples in the early 1800s. A sailor, Captain John Kidwell, is credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry, importing and testing a number of varieties in the 1800s for commercial crop potential. But it wasn’t until James Drummond Dole arrived in the islands that the pineapple was transformed from an American symbol of friendship and exotic locales into an American household staple.