Joan Crawford's Favorite Fruit Was One You May Have Never Heard Of

From a career start in the nightclub industry, Joan Crawford emerged as one of the 20th century's most recognizable movie stars. She wooed audiences with her sophistication and glamour — an image she also took to food. Crawford enjoyed hosting dinner parties, published several recipes, and was drawn to unfamiliar foods.

In fact, even her favorite fruit was obscure: the ugli fruit, a mutation of a tangelo. This citrus is green and covered in wrinkles and off-colored patches, hence its unflattering name. However, the flavor is delightful inside, so Crawford's preference is not a surprise. Similar to the citrusy burst of tangelos, ugli fruit packs a gently tart, lemon-like flavor combined with mouthwatering tropical notes. It is undocumented how the actress enjoyed the citrus, but her affiliation with the fruit has gone down in history. Fans even craft cocktails with ugli fruit in her honor. So, if you ever see this rare citrus on the shelves, think of the acclaimed Hollywood Star.

Ugli fruit was and still is hard to find

During Crawford's fame, ugli fruit was even harder to find because the citrus traces to a single estate. From its emergence in a parish in south Jamaica, the fruit was only first exported during the 1930s. Despite its unappealing aesthetics, the fruit's unique taste quickly caught on. As a result, the farm closely guarded its ugli fruit stock, and the citrus variety wasn't even sold in Jamaica.

The first exemplars started growing in the U.S. during the 1950s, but these fruits weren't expanded to commercial production. As a result — while it's impossible to verify — it's likely that all of the ugli fruit Crawford sampled came from Jamaica. Today, a company called Trout Hall Ltd. holds a trademark on the fruit and handles all exports, with the citrus sent to Europe and Canada. Although it's still not easy to track down, you can attempt to find the delicious fruit and craft a basil citrus granita or a charred citrus salad in Joan Crawford's honor.