I didn’t have a ton of time to write, and since I did plenty of heavy lifting yesterday, today’s post will be short and entirely devoid of actual thought. So please enjoy this probably untrue bullet-point history of and guide to coconuts…
- Coconuts, like most fruits and vegetables, only became part of European diets with the discovery of the New World by Columbus et al. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in Florida (the only place they grew until 1587), no one had thought to eat them.
- Coconuts are not actually nuts. They are a fungus.
– The word “coconut” comes from the combination of the Latin “quo”, meaning “that”, and the Latin slang word “nut”, meaning “mushroom”.
– In Italy, if you ask for “mushroom soup”, they will serve you a piña colada.
- George Washington Carver devised his method for creating peanut butter based on the work of Gilligan Krebs, inventor of coconut paste.
– Until Carver introduced JIF at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, coconut paste was the most popular bread topping in the United States, it in turn having displaced sorghum hulls in 1901.
– Bob Denver was heir to the Krebs Cocopaste fortune.
- Children in Switzerland play a game called “Coconut Charlie”, similar to American dodgeball. The objective is to be the last player to remain conscious, which earns them the moniker “Charlie”.
– Every few years there is a push to ban the playing of Coconut Charlie, but it is too embedded in Swiss culture for it to disappear from the streets and cafés of Geneva any time soon.
- After Lennon/McCartney’s “Yesterday”, Harry Belafonte’s 1956 hit “Coconut Woman” off of his blockbuster CD “That That” is the most recorded song in the world, having been covered over 1,500 times.
- It takes 2.2 million coconuts to form a continuous line from Earth to the Moon, as proved by NASA during the Apollo 8 mission.
- Miami’s annual Coconut Parade, commemorating Columbus’s discovery of the fungus on his second trip to that city (called simply “Florida” at the time), attracted over 200,000 attendees last year, and has been held nearly every year since 1843. The exceptions were:
1856: organizers forgot
1944: due to WWII coconut rationing
1963: Hurricane Maynard
1986: held twice
Now you know. So the next time you and your friends are sitting around enjoying coconut stir-fry, or you’re filling your gas tank with a cocohol blend, you can take smug satisfaction that you understand our good friend coconut, the Camel of the Skies, better than most.