Pineapples are a common fruit these days, something you see cut up in your salad or on sale at the grocery store. However, in the 1700s the fruit’s crown-like top and gem-like texture was seen as a symbol of wealth and power.
Originally from South America, pineapples were discovered by Christopher Columbus on one of his voyages to the New World. When he brought them back to Spain, many Europeans — royalty in particular — were completely taken by the delicacy. It was a rare, beautiful fruit most people had never encountered before and artists began incorporating pineapples in their work — whether lavishly depicted in a painting or elegantly carved into wooden furniture.
The pineapple made its way to England in the 17th century and by the 18th century, being seen with one was an instant indicator of wealth — a single pineapple could cost the equivalent of $8,000 today. In fact, the fruit was so desirable and rare that consumers often rented a pineapple for the night to show off to fellow party-goers.
Does this story of food extravagance sound familiar? Well, that’s because some things never change.