The pineapple was originally from Brazil but was quickly exported and grown as different varieties all around South America. Eventually, it made it to the Caribbeans and the Indies, which is where it was discovered by the famous Christopher Columbus in 1493 and brought back home to Europe. Little did he know he was bringing back a flesh-eating fruit.
It took until the 1600s before the pineapple was really spread around Europe, and then in the 1700s, it became a big hit being demanded all over. Everyone started to paint and print pineapples everywhere. You could say it became somewhat of a status symbol. If you happened to have a pineapple under your arm in the 1700s, well you were probably the richest and coolest person in your neighborhood. And this is no joke, you could even rent a pineapple for the evening. People would carry them around and take them to parties, to show off – without even eating them!
This was because pineapples were extremely expensive. If we calculated it by today’s prices it would have been in the realm of paying over $4,000 for a pineapple! That is the same price as a new coach, imagine you were deciding during the 18th century to buy a pineapple to buy a new coach, crazy!
It was so expensive that England took to trying to grow them themselves, a difficult achievement in its climate. A Victorian pineapple pit was a common sight, which was a place that stayed hot and mimicked the local climate of the pineapple, with full-on staff to ensure the crop was growing without dying.
The strangest fact of them all though is that the fruit produces an enzyme known as Bromelain which eats proteins. This means if you eat the fruit, it is eating you back! Hence why many complain of a stinging sensation when eating a pineapple. It is one of the reasons why field workers after years of harvesting the pineapple fruit lose their fingerprints.