Facts from My Fiction: Pineapple

img_1756I learned something very interesting about pineapple during my most recent visit to Louisiana.

Because it was so exotic and unusual, plantation owners would give sliced pineapple to their guests as a welcome treat.  It was a way of showing how happy the planters were that their friends had come to call.

Now, visits weren’t just for supper and a game of cards during the antebellum period.  People would stay for weeks, months, and sometimes even years.  At Oak Alley Plantation, where I took the above photograph, one couple stayed so long that they had two children during their visit!

I’m sure you’re wondering, “How did they get people to go home?”

Well, the answer is actually in the photograph.  When guests had overstayed their welcome, the hostess would present them with a whole pineapple.  That was their signal that it was time to either go visit someone else or go home.  Whoever received this breakfast tray would know that it was time to pack their trunks and move on.

I found this little tidbit so interesting that I incorporated it into my current work-in-progress, Bayou Fire.

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5 thoughts on “Facts from My Fiction: Pineapple

  1. Really? That is fascinating. How did people know what the pineapple meant? Did the pineapple custom manifest itself in the language of the time and place, too? I mean, are there any pineapple related phrases that are the equivalent of to give someone the boot?

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    1. Yep, really. I think it was just one of those social mores that “everyone knew,” to be honest. The welcoming gift of fresh, sliced pineapple made sense to me. IT would be refreshing, and just exotic enough to be a “show off” kind of thing. I suspect that the whole, spiky pineapple as a “get lost” gift carried an implication that the host/ess was feeling a little spiky him/herself after the visitors had worn out their welcome, but the exact etymology and origin of the custom was not described.

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      1. In any case, it sounds like a custom that would be fun to revive. I imagine that nowadays, if you presented someone you wanted to leave with a whole pineapple, they might think you are mad. They might also leave without any further questions. I guess it could work. It would also make for a surreal sketch.

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