The History of Pineapples
Learn All About Pineapple, The Major Players & Tips Too!
The Mayas and Aztecs of Mexico were believed to be the first civilization to cultivate pineapple around 750 BC. However the plant originated in southern Brazil and Paraguay and became a valuable commodity to the Guarani Indians of South America who called it “nana” meaning “excellent fruit”. They carried it with them as they traded across Central America and the Caribbean.
Christopher Columbus encountered the fruit on the island of Guadeloupe in 1493, calling it “pina de Indes” meaning “pine of the indians” due to its resemblance to pinecones. He returned to Spain with the plants making them one of the first “new world” plants to be introduced to the European continent. Just over twenty years later the famous explorer Magellan is credited with discovering pineapples in Brazil. Imports of the fruit to England and beyond increased to the delight of European aristocrats.
From Spain the pineapple began its journey across the globe on multiple fronts. Throughout the 1500’s the Spaniards introduced pineapple plants to the African Continent starting in Zimbabwe and continuing on into the tropical climates of the Pacific cultivating them in the Philippines, Guam, and Hawaii. Meanwhile the Portuguese, also gathering the plant from their colonies in Brazil, transported it into India, Asia and the West Indies. Transporting pineapples was difficult and expensive but the allure of this delicious and beautiful fruit saw it’s popularity steadily grow.
The pineapples popularity as a symbol of wealth and hospitality continued to increase and by the mid 1600’s they were being successfully cultivated in specially designed hot houses throughout Europe.
Pride and Prestige
Today Dole Pineapple Plantation sits on former Dole land near the north shore of Oahu. It has evolved from a small fruit stand in the 1950’s to one of Oahu’s top visitor attractions that includes train rides, pineapple gardens, an expansive gifts and snack shop and the world’s largest maze in the shape of a pineapple. Many visitors say the Dole Plantation is worth a stop just for the Dole Whip frozen dessert!
Today Lana’i is one of Hawaii’s most exclusive resort destinations. Luxury hotel Manele Bay offers 200 rooms and 26 suites near the harbor overlooking the stunning Hulopoe Beach Park. Inland is the the Koele Lodge at the cooler forested elevations near Lana’i City. Both resorts rank highly in the Top 20 Pacific Rim Resorts section of Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards. World class golf courses are laid out at both resorts.
For the more budget minded Hotel Lana’i in Lana’i City is charming. It was built by James Dole in the 1920’s for executives of the Dole Plantation. Several B&B’s round out the options as well as camping at Hulopoe Beach Park near Manele Bay Hotel. The beach parks campground is wonderful with full showers and excellent snorkeling just off the beach.
ML&P opened the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in 1992 and luxury homesites were developed throughout the 1990’s in the Kapalua area with the development of the Plantation Estates, Coconut Grove and Pineapple Hill Estates.
By 2009 the company ceased pineapple production after 97 years due to cheaper foreign labor markets. A group of Maui Pineapple Company executives and local investors formed the Hali’imaile Pineapple Company in 2010 and continue to grow fresh pineapples under the “Maui Gold” brand to Hawai’i and US markets. Today the company does pineapple tours in the town of Hali’imaile in upcountry Maui.