Bananas by Virginia Scott Jenkins
An American History

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Before 1880 most Americans had never seen a banana. By 1910 bananas were so common that streets were littered with their peels. Today Americans eat on average nearly seventy-five per year. More than a staple of the American diet, bananas have gained a secure place in the nation's culture and folklore. They have been recommended as the secret to longevity, the perfect food for infants, and the cure for warts, headaches, and stage fright. Essential to the cereal bowl and the pratfall, they remain a mainstay of jokes, songs, and wordplay even after a century of rapid change.

Covering every aspect of the banana in American culture, from its beginnings as luxury food to its reputation in the 1910s as the “poor man's” fruit to its role today as a healthy, easy-to-carry snack, Bananas provides an insightful look at a fruit with appeal.

About Virginia Scott Jenkins

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Published January 14, 2014 by Smithsonian Books. 210 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Cooking. Non-fiction

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The banana trade, commercial shipping, and Central American exporting have all been treated elsewhere, but here they are brought together in a single account with the goal of exploring the popular yellow fruit as a “window” into American cultural history.

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Publishers Weekly

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""A study of the banana at first may appear frivolous,"" writes Jenkins (The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession).

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