Pineapple Culture Analysis

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The widespread consumption of the once-rare and tropical fruit, the pineapple, in countries with temperate climate did not happen by accident. Author Gary Y. Okihiro in his book Pineapple Culture traces the long history behind the gradual proliferation and acceptance of the pineapple in the United States, arguing that modern consumption patterns of pineapple were informed by enduring cultural traditions in Western civilization, as well as habits “carved out” by large corporations during the 20th century. Among the various channels of influences, Okihiro in particular underscores the role played by effective “advertising campaigns and distribution systems” in promoting consumption and acceptance. In this essay, I will further explore this argument…show more content…
Okihiro argues that for Dole’s company, one of the primary motives for this campaign is to “recuperate” the reputation of the pineapple, which is now prevalent and commonplace, as the “king of fruits and a tropical trophy”. Beyond increasingly the “prestige” of their products, art also brings forth certain narratives into the public’s imagination. Most prominently, artworks created for Dole’s company frequently harken back to the centuries-old orientalist portrayal of the tropics, hinting at danger and exoticness but also warmth and hospitality. Many of these portrayals were straight-out fictional, for example, romanticising the pineapple as fruit to native Hawaii gently cared for by the islands’ carefree natives long before the arrival of white men. Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the most notable artists commissioned by Dole to create artworks to promote the Hawaiian Pineapple. Despite falling out with the company, she eventually conceded and produced two works in 1939, Pineapple Bud and Heliconia, in the characteristic modernist style – with bright hues and dynamic compositions. The advertising campaign based on works by O’Keeffe and other artists worked phenomenally – the Dole brand became firmly established as a household name in the United States after the Depression, consumer demand for “Hawaiian”…show more content…
Like the author argues in the beginning of the book, the “pineapple culture” in American society today was not created by accident. Instead, they are a result of behaviour, norms, perceptions, and beliefs propagated by actors big and small with differing goals and motives – from travel writers of the 17th and 18th centuries looking to impressive their countrymen, artists like Georgia O’Keeffe who just wanted a change of scenery and artistic inspiration, to the fledging Hawaiian Pineapple Company who were looking to survive through a time of economic collapse and chaos. In these ways, the creation of the pineapple culture is just like Modernist Art itself – vibrant, dynamic, and
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