In this day and age, pineapples are plentiful; prevalent in piña coladas and complementing Christmas hams, a good pineapple is only ever a short grocery trip away. But things weren’t always so simple, and it was once nearly impossible to purchase a pineapple. This week, Valley Forge Cupolas will delve into the sweet history of the copper pineapple: an enduring symbol of hospitality.
When Christopher Columbus and his crew made their 2nd voyage to the Caribbean in 1493, it is said that they anchored off the coast of a lush, tropical island in the Guadeloupe archipelago. According to legend, they happened upon a grizzly scene of unmentionable grotesqueness; however, in the midst of the deserted carnage, they discovered a peculiar fruit with delectable, golden flesh. They named it “Pineapple” for its exterior resemblance to their native european pine cone and for its inner apple-like consistency. They were instantly enthralled, and brought it back to Europe on their return voyage.
When Columbus introduced the pineapple to Renaissance Europe, it was an instant hit. A cultural obsession with the rare fruit swept across the land, making the pineapple a precious commodity. In fact, historians have calculated that the price of a pineapple in those days would have been the equivalent of thousands of dollars in present times. As such, the pineapple became a symbol of status and distinction, held only by the wealthiest members of upper class society. Why, pineapples could even be rented for the most extravagant of occasions!
When pineapples reached Colonial America, their place in the culture took on a slightly different tone; no longer were they held as untouchables reserved for only the highest class citizens. Though still rare and costly, they were beloved among the close-knit communities characterizing the times. As Colonial America was being established, there was a great emphasis on hospitality and neighborly friendship, so large, welcoming house parties were commonplace. Early Americans would amicably compete to throw the best parties possible, and the pineapple was the crown jewel of any party. It came to represent the greatest gift and most generous offering a host could bestow upon guests.
Because not all folks in Colonial America could afford pineapples, they began finding all sorts of creative ways to share the same symbol of friendship and good nature without the impossible pricetag; whittling wood and shaping metal, they crafted pineapples from basic materials to express warm greetings and hospitality to their friends and neighbors. Amazingly, this symbol of hospitality has continued on to this present day, commonly used to furnish living rooms and kitchens; but there’s no better way to broadcast benevolence than from the top of your roof. Looking to spread friendship and good nature to your own loved ones and neighbors? Try a pineapple weathervane from Valley Forge Cupolas today!
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