April 10, 2011

First Bananas on Sale in England – 1633

What's that hanging in Thomas Johnson's shop windows?

I imagine that's what the people of London were saying on this day in 1633. Somehow historians know the date when bananas first went on sale in England. For most Londoners, it would have been their first chance to even glimpse bananas – and most of them didn't get to taste the exotic fruit. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until the 1800s that bananas were regularly imported by Britain.

Apparently, at least one banana was in England long before the date of their first sale. Archeologists excavating a pit in London have discovered a banana skin dating back to about 1500. It most likely came from West Africa, scholars believe, whereas apparently Thomas Johnson's bananas came from Bermuda. (There doesn't seem to be any details on how Johnson managed to transport them so quickly that they were still fit to display, sell, and eat!)

Inside a wild banana
Bananas originated in Southeast Asia. The original wild banana ancestor didn't look much like modern bananas--humans have used artificial selection for thousands of years to create the delicious fruits we enjoy today. 

Check out...

There are kid-friendly recipes on the Chiquita Banana website

Little kids might like this online story

Have you ever had a frozen banana? Yummm.... 
Someone drew these monkeys on this banana.
One mom swears that her kids love to eat bananas that she decorates
with Sharpie pens--but she just draws really simple faces
and characters, compared to this work of art!

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