Though native to South America, pineapples made their way to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, and it was here that Christopher Columbus first spotted their spiky crowns in 1493.
Columbus and his crew took pineapples back to Spain, where everyone loved how sweet this new, exotic fruit tasted.
They tried to grow them there, but because pineapples need a tropical climate to grow, Europeans didn’t get very far.
The only pineapples they could get their hands on had to be imported from across the Atlantic Ocean, a time-consuming trek that often resulted in bruised, rotten fruit
Because they were in high demand and low in supply, only the extremely wealthy could afford pineapples.
In the American colonies in the 1700s, pineapples were no less revered. Imported from the Caribbean islands, pineapples that arrived in America were very expensive—one pineapple could cost as much as $8000USD that’s $17,842 FJD (in today’s dollars)
This high cost was due to the perishability, novelty, exoticism, and scarcity of the fruit.
The fruit evoked such jealousy among the poor, pineapple-less plebs that people could, if they wished, pay to rent a pineapple for the night.
Before selling them for consumption, pineapple merchants rented pineapples to people who couldn’t afford to purchase them.
Those who rented would take the pineapple to parties, not to give as a gift to the host, but to carry around and show off their apparent ability to afford such an expensive fruit!