Pineapple is a member of the tropical bromeliad family, and the only one with any economic value.
The pineapple is believed to have originated in the verdant lowlands of Paraguay. Carried aboard 15th and 16th century trade ships, the fruit was soon found growing as far away as Mexico, Australia, China and India. Christopher Columbus brought pineapples home from his travels in the “New World” and they soon became a gourmet delight savored across Europe. Even George Washington grew them in his Mount Vernon hothouse.
No one is certain of when pineapples were first grown in Hawaii, but historians believe that a Spanish shipwreck in 1527 on the South Kona coast on the Big Island of Hawaii brought tools, stores, garments and plants, including pineapples, from Mexico to Hawaii.
In later years, more Spanish explorers arrived in Hawaii, planting pineapples among other fruits. Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish adventurer who arrived in Hawaii in 1794 and became a trusted friend and advisor to King Kamehameha the Great, experimented with raising pineapples in the early 1800s. The “Wild Kailua” pineapple was found growing in the Kona area as early as 1816.
Captain John Kidwell is credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry. In the 1880’s he imported and tested a number of varieties and selected Smooth Cayenne for its cylindrical form and uniform texture. It was Jim Dole, for whom Dole Plantation is named, who pioneered the industry and became popularly known as the “Pineapple King”.
Founded in Hawaii in 1851, the Company built its reputation on its commitment to "quality, and quality, and quality." These were the words of James Drummond Dole's "Statement of Principles," upon which he founded and operated the Company. James Dole came to Hawaii with an initial investment of $1,000, degrees in business and horticulture and a love of farming. With these, he began the first successful pineapple growing and canning operation, then called the Hawaiian Pineapple Company. Dole developed and grew the pineapple business into Hawaii's second largest industry. In achieving his goal of making pineapple available in every grocery store in the country, James Dole made the name "Hawaiian" almost synonymous with "pineapple." Considered an exotic fruit, the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality, and is often depicted on fine furniture. After Dole began an innovative campaign of advertising with recipes in ladies magazines, the popularity of the fruit increased and was sought by households throughout the U.S.
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