History of the Hawaiian Pineapple
When you think of pineapples, you think of Hawaii. So close has the association become that most people assume that the plant is native to the islands. In fact, pineapples originated in South America and probably did not reach Hawaii until early in the 19th century-the first record of their existence there is dated January 21, 1813. Don Francisco de Paula y Marin, a Spanish advisor to King Kamehameha of Hawaii, brought the famous fruits back with him to Hawaii, after Spanish and European voyagers had introduced the pineapple to much of the world.
The local name for the pineapple plant and the pineapple in the Hawaiian language is “hala kahiki” which means "plant of Tahiti". But in the ancient language of the Hawaiian islands, all foreign lands were once called "Tahiti." It is known that Spanish sailors carried the fruit as the English carried limes, to avert scurvy, and that they left the leafy crowns to take root on many Pacific islands. But the Spaniards never reached Hawaii. However the introduction occurred, the pineapple is now one of Hawaii's major crops, as well as the best-known symbol of the islands. In fact, it is such a well known symbol of Hawaii, that its likeness is used on multitude of Hawaiian jewelry and Hawaiian gift items sold on the Hawaiian islands.
Pineapples were sold canned by 1892. Pineapple cultivation by U.S. companies began in the early 1900s on Hawaii, after an entrepreneur named James Dole started a pineapple plantation in Hawaii in the year 1900. The companies Dole and Del Monte began growing pineapple on the island of Oahu in 1901 and 1917, respectively. Maui Pineapple Company began pineapple cultivation on the island of Maui in 1909. by the 1920s, the pineapple was Hawaii's largest industry, and, until recently, Hawaii was the world's largest producer of canned pineapples.
In 2006, Del Monte announced its withdrawal from pineapple cultivation in Hawaii, leaving only Dole and Maui Pineapple Company in Hawaii as the USA’s largest growers of pineapples. Maui Pineapple Company markets its Maui Gold brand of pineapple and Dole markets its Hawaii Gold brand of pineapple.
Symbolism of the Hawaiian Pineapple
Due to its seemingly exotic qualities and rareness, the pineapple soon became a symbol of hospitality in early America. Because trade routes between America and Caribbean islands were often slow and perilous, it was considered a significant achievement for a host to procure a ripe pineapple for guests. Similarly, some accounts tell of New England sea captains who, upon returning from trade routes in the Caribbean or Pacific, would place a pineapple outside their homes as a symbol of a safe return.
Due to its association with warmth and friendliness, pineapples in America were often used as the “crowning” piece in large displays of food. Similarly, the pineapple symbol was used frequently in the 18th and 19th centuries to decorate bed posts, tablecloths, napkins—anything associated with welcoming guests. Today, the pineapple remains a fitting symbol for the hospitality industry, and pineapple-themed products still abound. From pineapple jewelry such as pineapple pendants and silver pineapples to pineapple decor such as pineapple shaped wood boxes and pineapple design table lamps, the Hawaiian pineapple motif says to the world: "Welcome!"
The Use of the Pineapple In Decorating:
Even today, Americans continue to show interest in decorating the home with pineapple designs. Not only are pineapple designs prevalent in the home in places like the foyer and living areas as well as kitchen, they are also visibly displayed in the form of pineapple finials on gateposts or as fountains for the garden. The use of pineapple plaques highlighted with the warm, inviting words “Welcome to our Home” has become a common sight.
No one can dispute the historical, social and economic impact of the pineapple fruit and its relevance to the spirit of hospitality for which the people of Hawaii are known. While the production of pineapples have fueled the economies for the states of Florida and Hawaii, the symbolic designs and good looks of the pineapple has also led to much inspiration in decorating concepts and designs using unique pineapple themed accessories for the home and garden. The pineapple also continues to inspire the hospitality industry in many of these states which were responsible for providing this fruit to the rest of the Americas, highlighting the deep meaning attached to the symbol of the pineapple.