10 Common Fruits That Used To Be Completely Different

Published on March 18, 2024

Credit: Jacopo Maia

As humanity's agricultural practices evolved, crops changed shape, taste, and even color. And although we like to think of the fruits we know and love as timeless creations of nature, the truth is that they have also transformed over time and a lot!

Here are 10 intriguing examples of fruits that underwent significant changes before becoming the fruits we know today.



Credit: Anastasia Eremina

Bananas have an interesting (and complex) story. Initially, they weren’t the fleshy, tasty treats we know today, but were almost inedible and had enormous seeds in them. Through selective breeding over dozens of generations, humans transformed bananas into the sweet, seedless fruit we know today. But the changes didn’t stop there: in the first half of the twentieth century, the main banana cultivar in the world was victim to a mysterious disease that almost wiped out bananas completely, and they had to be replaced with a more resistant variety.



Credit: Shelley Pauls

Wild apples were small, sour, and varied greatly in flavorand not necessarily for good. Over many centuries, humans chose to grow and eat the ones that were larger and more palatable, leading to sweeter fruits with a more consistent flavor. Our ancestors brought these "elite" seeds around with them while they traveled the world, giving rise to many of the cultivars we know today.



Credit: Sahand Babali

Once, watermelons weren’t bigger than a peach. You might find that hard to believe, but most of what we now love about watermelons was selected for thousands of years. Unfortunately, this came at a cost. In the process, watermelons lost genetic diversity, and became more vulnerable to pests and diseases, making them harder to grow.



Credit: Maja Petric

One of the earliest domesticated fruit crops, grapes have been a part of human history for millennia. How early grapes exactly looked is kind of a mystery, but we can guess that they were smaller and not all that sweet (starting to see a pattern here?). Fortunately, our ancestors loved the fruit so much that they bred hundreds of varieties, some for winemaking and others to feed their families.



Credit: Jacek Dylag

What we call a strawberry is not even a berry. And, to be fair, they are not even a "purebred" fruit, but rather a "hybrid" of two different related species. The hybridization was intentional and was part of the domestication of wild strawberries—that were initially tiny and packed with too many seeds. We can thank this intense selection process for the sweet, juicy treat they are today.



Credit: Ian Baldwin

Peaches originally appeared in China, and, according to botanical experts, they were way smaller than they are today and, allegedly, "tasted like a lentil." Yeah, we are as surprised as you. However, after nearly six thousand years of artificial selection, domesticated peaches grew to be 16 times larger, sweeter, and juicier than their wild counterparts, while also increasing the amount of nutrients essential to human survival.



Credit: Max

Not even the timeless orange is safe here. Yeah, you guessed it, they used to be nothing like what we now expect of a standard orange, being generally smaller and bitter than today’s sweet and juicy cultivars. Interestingly, they were also the result of hybridization between two varieties of citrus we are still familiar with: pomelo ( Citrus maxima ) and mandarin ( Citrus reticulata ).



Credit: Hitoshi Namura

Though avocados were only semi-domesticated, with early humans in the American continent choosing to grow wild varieties rather than keep specialized plantations, their evolutionary history is quite surprising. This fruit evolved at the beginning of the Cenozoic era, when the local megafauna (very large animals like the megatherium) ate it whole, helping its seeds begin their germination process within their stomachs. Relics of a long gone past, they were only saved from extinction by human intervention.



Credit: Alexander Schimmeck

Similarly to avocados, the "king of fruits" is today considered an evolutionary anachronism, as its large seeds were once dispersed by now-extinct animals. However, as humans fell in love with the tasty fruit, mango species dispersed far from their original range, giving birth to hundreds of different varieties that resulted in an overall sweeter and less fibrous fruit.



Credit: Juno Jo

Though little is known about its domestication, pineapples were already a staple crop of South American societies at least a millennia before Europeans arrived. The wild fruit had various uses, including making alcoholic beverages, medicines, and even crafting poison arrows. After contact, Europeans went bananas over this new exotic and strange-tasting fruit, but they were so expensive that most used them only as decoration and did not start to eat them until they began to rot.


Discover 10 Of The Weirdest Stories From Across America!

Published on March 18, 2024

Credit: Dan Parlante

America can be such a wonderfully weird place, filled from coast to coast with eccentric roadside attractions, captivating towns, and, most importantly, extraordinary people. We compiled a list of 10 of the most delightfully quirky places, laws, and individuals so we can celebrate the weird and interesting side of this fascinating country of ours.

Baah to the Chief!

Credit: Nandhu Kumar

Many towns and cities in the U.S. pay homage to their first mayor in some way, usually by naming a street after them, or through a plaque or statue. So maybe, in a few years' time, if you find yourself driving through the town of Fair Haven, Vermont, you might come across a majestic bronze statue of a Nubian goat embellishing the town’s square.

Lincoln the goat was elected as the first mayor of Fair Haven in 2019, after winning against other nominated pets. The election was an idea by the Town Manager as a way to raise money for a school playground, and it has been held since as both a fundraiser and a way to teach children about civic responsibility. In 2020, Lincoln lost his reelection bid to a therapy dog named Murfee.


The heart of Bigfoot country

Credit: Darren Halstead

If there is a place in the United States that should choose Fox Mulder’s classic tagline "I want to believe" as its official motto, it is the town of Willow Creek, California. Self-declared "the Bigfoot Capital of the World", Willow Creek is home to a Bigfoot museum, several attractions, and it holds the annual "Bigfoot Daze" festival in September. There’s a good reason behind this obsession: the town is the closest location to the place where the Patterson-Gimlin footage (the most famous Bigfoot sighting) was filmed.


Don’t make a habit of it!

Credit: Elimende Inagella

This one might save you some trouble in the future. If you ever happen to spend Halloween in the state of Alabama, don’t dress up as a clergy member of any kind, or you might end up breaking the law. According to the state code, anyone who "fraudulently pretends by garb or outward array to be a minister of any religion, or nun, priest, rabbi, or another member of the clergy" will be considered guilty of a misdemeanor and might be punished with jail time or a fine not exceeding $500.


The most "purr-suasive" candidate

Credit: Manja Vitolic

Just like New Haven, the Alaskan town of Talkeetna had an unusual mayor. Stubbs the Cat acted as the honorary mayor of this unincorporated community for twenty years. He was elected in 1997 when he was just a kitten and served until his death in 2017. He was succeeded by another cat named Aurora, who has acted as Talkeetna's mayor ever since.


"Gouda" night!

Credit: Azzedine Rouichi

We apologize for the cheesy pun, but it was simply too "brie-lliant" to pass. From burgers to lasagna, cheese has truly found its way into several of our favorite dishes. However, if after a big, cheesy lunch you feel the urge to take a well-deserved nap, make sure the place you choose to lay your head in doesn’t happen to be a cheese shop in Illinois.

According to the Illinois Sanitary Food Preparation Act, it is against the law to sleep "in any workroom of a bake shop, kitchen, dining room, confectionery, creamery, cheese factory, or any place where food is prepared for sale." Does this law actually get enforced? Well, it’s probably something of a "gruyere" area. In any case, it definitely calls for further "analyswiss".

Again, we are so sorry.


Are we on the air?

Credit: Dave Weatherall

In 1950, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the popular NBC show Truth or Consequences, host Ralph Edwards announced that he would air a special program from the first American town that renamed itself after the show. By March of the same year, the town of Hot Springs, New Mexico changed its name to "Truth or Consequences", and the 10th-year special program was aired from there the next day. Edwards continued to visit the town on the first weekend of May for the next 50 years, during an event that eventually became known as the "Fiesta."


Hot off the press!

Credit: Roman Kraft

Besides the above-mentioned Willow Creek’s obsession with Bigfoot, this entry might have one of the most mysterious origins in this list. The city of Newport News is the fifth-most populous city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. While this name might seem more suitable for a local newspaper, what’s interesting about Newport News is that the source of the name itself is not known with certainty. The best-known explanation is related to Captain Christopher Newport, a 17th-century sailor who transported colonists back to Jamestown after encountering a fleet of supply ships during a great famine. According to historians, the town was then named after Newport’s "good news."


I demand satisfaction, good sir!

Credit: Tengyart

This one might seem a bit old-fashioned, but this tradition has been carried by Kentucky politicians since the 19th century. The oath of office taken by Kentucky judges, officeholders, and county officials has remained virtually unchanged since the 1800s, and it includes the words "I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it." The oath of office also makes politicians swear that they have never aided people in a duel, nor acted as second in a challenge with deadly weapons.


You can’t sit there!

Credit: Mitch Gaiser

According to the municipal code of the city of Boulder, Colorado, it is a crime to leave "upholstered furniture not manufactured for outdoor use" outside in a yard or a porch. This law applies to furniture like couches or reclining chairs, but there are some exceptions. These restrictions are only enforced to furniture left overnight, or that’s clearly visible from the street. However, it might be safer to cut your losses and move that nap inside the house.


Weird capital of the world

Credit: Megan Bucknall

The city of Austin, Texas prides itself on its nickname, "The Live-Music Capital of the World." While this title is definitively well-deserved (Austin has the most live music venues per capita in the United States), another motto (albeit an unofficial one) immediately comes to mind whenever someone mentions this fantastic city: "Keep Austin Weird."

This now well-known phrase was first said by an Austin native while calling to make a donation to the local radio station KOOP. When the host asked him why he was donating, he said: "Because it keeps Austin weird." The rest is history: the phrase has since been engraved into countless bumper stickers, frisbees, and t-shirts.

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