Chiquita Banana 1940s

I'm watching TV, and there was an ad for a refrigerator. It showed bananas inside the fridge. And I recalled my dad singing, "Never put bananaaaaaas in the refrig-er-a-tor!"

So I looked it up.  Here it is!

I like how they put them in a salad. They just put them in a salad. No peeling or slicing. That is lazy! I will have to try that.

I have a weird story about not putting bananas in the refrigerator. I remember sitting in Sunday school when I was about 8 and hearing a lesson about a kid who had a brown banana in his lunch and wanted to trade, but all the kids were grossing out and made fun of him. I remember the speaker mentioning that the banana was probably brown because it had been refrigerated and repeating several times that a banana is a tropical fruit and should never be refrigerated. I was sitting there wondering why this was such an important spiritual lesson and what this had to do with God or anything else. I later realized that the lesson was probably supposed to be about not bullying your schoolmates, but that's not what stuck with me. Just that a banana is a tropical fruit and should not be refrigerated.

...though I knew you weren't supposed to put them in the refrigerator, I admit I never made the tropical fruit connection
It's a cute ad with a catchy song, though the banana promoting eating her kind is weird.
Monica! The singer is Monica Lewis, a noted actress and singer of the era who is still lively and lovely at age 90, and just wrote her memoirs of Hollywood. And she's active on Facebook!
Bananas are shipped in refrigerated vehicles. The fruit companies don't want you to refrigerate bananas because the bananas will rot quicker and you'll go buy more.

Read "Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World" for a fascinating read about this fruit.
This commercial reminds me of some of the issues I dealt with when I worked for a few years for the California Tree Fruit Agreement, which was the marketing order for California peaches, plums, and nectarines. (A marketing order is an organization that growers give a small amount of money from each box they pack that uses that money for research, statistics, and marketing. Think "got milk" but on a much smaller scale in our case.)

Anyway, one of the major problems we had was with consumer education around storage. Chiquita has won this battle - even people who didn't grow up with this commercial know not to put bananas in the fridge. They spent the money on education at a time in which the advertising landscape was nowhere near as crowded as it is now.

Would you believe me if I told you that you should never put peaches or nectarines in the fridge at home until they're at the ripeness you want? It's true. Stone fruits will undergo "chilling injury" if they're refrigerated too soon - it makes them mealy and nasty, and can even turn them brown around the pit ("internal breakdown"). The best thing to do is leave them out on a plate, stem down, where air can circulate around them, until they're just the way you like them, then put them in the fridge. That's safe, and they'll stay at the ripeness you want for a couple days.

If you want to speed up their ripening, put them in a paper bag, but check them morning and evening - the concentrated ethylene gas will make them move pretty fast, even faster if they're white flesh. Don't put them in a plastic bag, because it doesn't breathe, and will hold in too much ethylene (causing bitterness in the fruit) and too much moisture (leading to decay).

There are ways to get around chilling injury in refrigeration - after harvest, stone fruit can undergo "pre-conditioning," which is a heat treatment that will prevent chilling injury when the fruit is later refrigerated, and both pre-conditioned and non-pre-conditioned fruit can be safely refrigerated in the 33-35F range - but most people's fridges are not set that low. There's also no way to know if the fruit you bought is pre-conditioned or not, so it's safest to treat it as if it's not.

One more thing - the amount of red on the skin of peaches and nectarines is a matter of variety and of how much of the fruit was covered by leaves, and isn't an indicator of ripeness! Some varieties are mostly yellow when they're ripe, some mostly red. The patterns of red and yellow are caused by the skin being exposed to or protected from sunlight by branches and leaves.

Now you see why I wish we'd had a long-ass cartoon commercial back in the 40s!

Edited at 2012-07-28 08:34 pm (UTC)