A Brief History of Pineapples

Written by Phin Upham

The natives of the West Indies were cultivating a new kind of fruit. They called it “anana,” but the Spaniards called it pina because of its resemblance to a giant pine cone. It was the English who translated pina to pine and added the word “apple” to distinguish the fruit from the tree.

It grows primarily in hot and humid climates, which made Brazil and Paraguay the ideal place to cultivate them the first time. The pineapple was distributed via trade all throughout South America, and it had grown to the West Indies and Mexico by the time the Europeans had come into contact with it.

William Strachey was the first writer to make note of the pineapple in English. He was one of the brave who sailed to the New World, where he eventually arrived in Virginia. He was made secretary of the Virginia colony, where he heard rumors of a dainty little fruit that resembled a pine cone.

The pineapple was tough to grow. It wasn’t just the space that was needed, the American colonies didn’t have the weather for it. When they did find climates suitable for growing, it was difficult to devote the necessary time to it.

The pineapple came to Hawaii thanks to Captain James Cook, who brought it to the islands in the 1790s. Though the fruit was grown in Florida, most Americans would have considered it a rarity during that time. It wasn’t until Jim Dole founded his pineapple company in 1901 that pineapples would become a commercially produced product.

Phin Upham

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham.