The pineapple is internationally known as the symbol of hospitality and welcoming, so it is fitting that much of the industry has adopted it. But where did it all start? To answer this, we have to go back to the colonial age.
The 17th century was not known for speedy travel. While this is a luxury today, in the 1600's it would take weeks or even months to travel internationally by ship. Today, we are able to transport anything in under a day by placing it on an airplane. We can have the finest foods imported from China or fly around the world within a single rotation of the Earth. This is something that would have been unimaginable in colonial times. Now, why is this so important to the pineapple being the symbol of the hospitality industry? It relates in two ways; it was a status symbol, and it became an invitation
Symbol of Wealth
Transporting items from new worlds was extremely difficult due to the long travel times, especially if it was perishable. This meant that anything that did make it back to America would be considered a luxury and would be priced as such. When the exotic pineapple first came from the Caribbean—at a time when even sugar was rare—it quickly became a favorite of all that could try it. Being able to have a pineapple in your home became a status symbol. But more importantly, being served a pineapple at a dinner party meant that you were a particularly special guest. It would make a guest feel welcomed and appreciated by the host. It became very common to have a pineapple sitting out whenever welcoming guests if the host could afford one. If not, hosts would have a pineapple carved into wood to display or on dinnerware. But that’s not where the history ends.
An Invitation to Come In
Work trips can sometimes seem to be never ending. You are away from home and in the 1600's there were no iPhones; sometimes, writing home would take just as long as it would for a captain to sail back. So, when a captain returned home after a long journey it was something to talk about. But how was anyone supposed to know when they are back if you can't send out a blast email? You use a pineapple! It is said that captains would place a pineapple on the front gate of their home to say "I've returned home! Please come in!". It served as an invitation to family and friends alike to enjoy new foods the captain brought home and hear all about the journey. Whenever you saw the pineapple, it meant you are now a guest in the home and to walk right in.
The tradition of placing a pineapple outside to invite guests in or serving it as a delicacy has adapted with the times. Today, we can text our friends and family to come over and pineapples are no longer difficult to come by. But the message lives on. The hospitality industry is still represented by the pineapple because of what it meant to people in the 17th century. Whenever you saw a pineapple, you were welcomed in, and a feeling of warmth came with it. It is much more than a tasty fruit; it is a representation of togetherness and friendship. A perfect representation for hospitality and the message we all try to send.