Before 1880 most Americans had never seen a banana. By 1910 bananas were so common that streets were littered with their peels. Today Americans eat on average nearly seventy-five per year. More than a staple of the American diet, bananas have gained a secure place in the nation's culture and folklore. They have been recommended as the secret to longevity, the perfect food for infants, and the cure for warts, headaches, and stage fright. Essential to the cereal bowl and the pratfall, they remain a mainstay of jokes, songs, and wordplay even after a century of rapid change.
Covering every aspect of the banana in American culture, from its beginnings as luxury food to its reputation in the 1910s as the “poor man's” fruit to its role today as a healthy, easy-to-carry snack, Bananas provides an insightful look at a fruit with appeal.
“Jenkins’s historical overview of the banana’s production, marketing, and transporting makes this book a strong contribution to the growing field of food studies.”—Publishers Weekly
“In a vivid and often funny history, Jenkins charts how shifting diets and nutritional standards at the turn of the century, as well as more recent changes in food marketing and distribution, propelled the Caribbean fruit to widespread popularity and iconic stature in American culture.”—Discover