Food - Drink
Why Did Red Pistachios Seemingly Disappear?
Pistachios are naturally pale green and beige, but a few generations ago, red pistachios were readily available. The red pistachio isn’t a different variety, but just regular pistachios dyed red to catch the eye of the consumer and conceal blemishes on the shells, a practice that exporters and producers began in the 1930s.
The reason we don’t see red pistachios anymore dates back to 1979 when U.S. diplomats and citizens were taken hostage in Iran, where the nuts were widely grown. Then-President Carter responded with sanctions against the country, which affected the import of red pistachios, causing them to disappear from the U.S. since then.
Now, nearly all American-market pistachios are grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico, and modern harvesting has reduced the chances of shell imperfections, making the red dye useless. However, they’re not impossible to find because red pistachios are sold as novelty items starting from October for the holidays.