Food - Drink
The Reason America Stopped Calling Avocados Alligator Pears
By MEGGAN ROBINSON
Avocados have been a part of Central and South American diets since 500 B.C. First planted in Florida in 1833 and in California in 1856, they were in such high demand in the U.S. by 1914 that buyers would pay as much as $1 apiece, but avocado growers looking to benefit from this profitability thought there was one major problem.
Before we called them avocados, the fruits were called alligator pears (which referred to their shape and bumpy skin) or ahuacate (a word that was hard to pronounce for Americans and meant “testicle” in Aztec). In 1914, a group of farmers decided to rename the fruits “avocados” to make them more marketable.
The marketing strategy seems to have worked, because in 2020, U.S. avocado production weighed 206,610 tons and was worth $426 million. If you feel nostalgic for the alligator pear of yore, you can enjoy Georgia O'Keefe's 1923 painting titled "Alligator Pears," and you can certainly find reasons to consume more ahuacate.