The Avocado: A New Fruit in the Northern States

Avocado 3

Sometimes I’m surprised by the large variety of foods that were available a hundred years ago. Apparently even farm families were beginning to eat non-local foods during the winter months. The February, 1915 issue of Farm Journal contained a serving suggestion for avocados.

The Avocado

The avocado or the “alligator pear, “ is at once one of the oldest and newest of fruits. It is an old standby in tropical countries and yet is one of the latest fruits introduced into the northern states. Just why it has not been more generally taken up and considered a staple rather than a luxury is not plain. It costs about the same as grapefruit. However, grapefruit is usually eaten as a fruit, while the avocado serves more or less as a vegetable—usually more. It may replace lettuce, though it is more tempting when served on lettuce leaves.

We in the North get our avocados from southern Florida or California. The avocado may be served in various ways. Often it is simply cut in half, lengthwise, and the stone removed. A quarter or less of a lemon or lime is put beside it, and it is then eaten with a spoon, as you would eat a cantaloupe. Some add a little powdered sugar.

70 thoughts on “The Avocado: A New Fruit in the Northern States

  1. I never ate an avocado (as a former Yankee) until moving to Texas. Even then, it took me a long time to try one. I’m sorry I waited so long! I suddenly feel the need to make guacamole.

    1. I also never had avocados when I was young. I was surprised how this article suggested that they were widely available in the north in 1915 because I don’t remember them in stores in central Pennsylvania mid-century.

  2. Try a little balsamic vinegar drizzled on them, then eat with a spoon. My first taste of avocado was when I went to college in Texas and I was raised in Missouri.

  3. I didn’t grow up with avocados either . . . and I still haven’t quite gotten a taste for them. That idea of powdered sugar doesn’t sound good to me at all . . .

    1. I’m sometimes amazed by how good the rail infrastructure was a hundred years ago. Goods were moving across the US much more quickly than I would have guessed.

    1. You should give them a try. I seldom eat avocados but I bought one to take a photo for this post, and enjoyed it. And, then I decided that I didn’t really like the picture that I’d taken so I bought another one, and enjoyed eating that one too after I’d photographed it.

  4. I eat avocado almost daily, but have never tried it with powdered sugar. My husband’s grandparents, who lived in Southern California, had an orchard of avocado trees until little by little the land was sold off to provide room for a roadway.

    1. It’s always a little sad when agricultural land transitions to other purposes, yet I realize that change sometimes needs to occur across the years.

  5. I just never could put sugar on an avocado. That sounds pretty untasty. I began eating them in Liberia, where they were abundant, and where people called them “butter pear.” I still eat a typical Liberian breakfast from time to time: cubed avocado, banana, and orange. That’s three hundred of the longest-lasting calories in the world. 🙂

  6. I think avocados must have arrived in the States long before they fetched up in the UK. I was brought up in London and became used to many exotica like yogurt (!), lychees, sauerkraut and so on, but I didn’t meet avocados till I was in my 20s. Like everyone else, I’ll pass on the sugar…..

    1. I can remember when yogurt was considered unusual, and I don’t think that I ever even hear of lychees until about 10 years ago –but sauerkraut is another story. It was very popular in central Pennsylvania when I was a child. 🙂

  7. Love avocados but I don’t think I’d like them with powdered sugar! Great as guacamole or mashed up with a little garlic and salt on toast. 🙂

    1. The suggestion to put powdered sugar on avocados sounds so strange that I’m almost tempted to give it a try. (“Almost” is probably the key word in the previous sentence. 🙂 )

  8. I don’t like the taste of avocado and the thought of sugar on top makes it even more unappetizing to me 🙂

    1. Sometimes, like today, I’m surprised how modern and up-to-date some things were a hundred years ago. Other times I’m equally amazed how much things have changed over the past 100 years.

  9. Very interesting! I never thought about when this fruit was introduced to us here in the north. Powdered sugar…Who woulda thought?

    1. Powdered sugar sounds really strange on avocados–though I must admit that I’m thinking about buying another one the next time that I’m at the store to give it a try. 🙂

  10. I love that some people called them alligator pear. How appropriate considering their shape and the texture of the skin. I am allergic to certain varieties of avocado and I also have a latex allergy. Recently I discovered that it is often the case that people with a latex allergy have this extra allergy due to some biological similarities of the two products.

  11. Haha wow I’ve never heard that avocado has been called “Alligator pear.” And eating it with powdered sugar? That sounds kind of funky. I can definitely get behind the lemon/lime suggestion though. Love your blog- you always have the coolest trivia 🙂

  12. I didn’t think people ate foods that were out of season so long ago either. Especially if the food wasn’t local, and the people weren’t fairly wealthy. It just goes to show how wrong I can be about things I haven’t bothered to research!

    1. I also was surprised. By the early 1900’s technology was already changing the way people lived. The rail transportation system must have been really good back then.

  13. I love avocados!! I use them more in southwestern or Spanish foods. One way I find I can get people to eat them who have never tried them before is… Some diced sweet onion, sweet pepper, diced fresh tomatoes,diced avocado and fresh cilantro leaves then salt and pepper to your taste. Very good in a scramble egg tortilla,as a salsa.Around here if we eat them plain,we’ll eat them with lemon and salt.

    1. Mmm . . . I like salsa. This sounds really good. When eating them plain, I have never tried them with salt. That’s a new one for me. I am going to have to get some more avocados, and give lemon and salt a try.

  14. So my curiosity got the better of me. First, I googled avocado with sugar, and found that in the Global South, they eat it with sweet fruit and also brown sugar. Then, I found a few recipes for avocado shakes/smoothies that were sweetened. Off to the store I went for avocados. I do not use powdered sugar and did not want to buy it just for that, so I used the raw turbinado sugar that I used when I do eat sugar in something. I sprinkled a small amount, and let it sort of “melt” onto the avocado half, so it was kind of a syrup ribbon. Amazingly, it was quite tasty! The introduction of the avocado into the Northern diet has an interesting history (including the original Aztec name and meaning) and originally, the Californian growers used the term ahuacate as a more accurate term than avocado (which is apparently not really a name until it was invented), and shamed anyone using the common vernacular “alligator pear.”

    1. Thanks for testing this for us. Your description makes them sound really good with sugar and I am definitely going to do it, too. Avocados are on my shopping list. 😊

    1. Based on the comments (and the old magazine quote) I am realizing what a versatile fruit avocados are. There are a lot of ways to eat them, and they work well with a variety of foods.

  15. When I was living with my parents, we never ate an avocado. Now, we eat it at least 2x/week, mostly in a smoothy, in a salad or as a dressing ingredient! Yummm!

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