It’s believed that pineapples first became popular in the Caribbean islands, brought there by the sailors and pirates who passed through the sunny ports.
Seamen routinely ate pineapple to prevent scurvy on the open seas, and for years the fruit was a popular item to trade. But when Christopher Columbus visited “The New World” in 1493, he immediately fell in love.
He brought the sugary fruit back to England, where the natives ate it up. Many tried to grow pineapples in their own gardens, but the harsh English winters proved to be too much for the tropical fruit. Its lack of availability and delicious flavor meant this delicacy was often available only to royals.
When new settlers moved to America, built their homes and started entertaining, they continued to think of the pineapple as a luxurious food item. Hostesses often used a single pineapple as the focal point in their centerpieces, or served the warm-weather treat as a special dessert for privileged visitors.
Since purchasing pineapples continued to be a challenge in these early times, dinner guests felt honored when they saw a pineapple as part of the hostess’ food display. Thus, the pineapple quickly became a visual symbol of the generosity and social atmosphere that accompanies a welcoming feast.
Colonial architects and builders quickly translated the pineapple’s hospitable aspects to their construction ideals ? they topped entryway pillars with concrete pineapples to welcome guests, and used durable brass pineapples to decorate weather vanes and umbrella finials for outdoor entertaining. Today, the pineapple remains an international symbol of hospitality.