The Camel of the Skies

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.


  1. hemisphire
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I was hoping for some trivia relating to putting limes in coconuts.

  2. Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    You left off the historical event of the invention of coco-loco soda. After victory over Japan in WW2 a large influx of coconuts from the philipines prompted food scientists to work on the development of industry to support the sudden market glut. Two main contenders were Coco-Loco soda vs the coconut husk pipe. Rumor has it that McCarthur put the kibosh on the coconut pipe and so we have some bitching coconut soda.

  3. Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    A bit disappointed that you didn’t mention the terrifying nature of coconut CRABS either:

  4. Simalot
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    No mention of the use of the coconut as substitute bra, especially with all the other Bob Denver references?

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *