Food Follies: Daft Things People do to Bananas

Our food is constantly being fiddled with to improve it in some way. Sometimes that’s good (who wants to buy a clucking chicken that’s nowhere near oven ready), sometimes it’s superfluous bordering on iffy (do we really need toxic blue dye in mushy peas?!), and sometimes it’s just plain ludicrous. Oh, and how much people love to argue about this…!

There are a handful of foods, though, where almost everyone agrees that nature made them damn near perfect. The banana is one of them: It tastes good, it’s not overly messy to eat, it’s nutritious, and it comes in its very own biodegradable packaging. The banana cannot be further improved upon. Or can it…?!

Well, only last month, I came across a news item reporting that Billa, one Austria’s bigges supermarket chains, had started offering bananas, which had been peeled(!) and then repackaged(!!) into black styrofoam trays covered with cling film.

Yes, I can year you cry, you’ve all been waiting for a lifetime to have someone eliminate the inhumane inconvenience of having to strip the skin off your own bananas.

I mean, which end do you use? It’s a whole conundrum. Just think of what it would add to your life if you merely had to liberate the world’s most popular fruit by hacking into a handy tray made of 100% (temporarily) solidified greenhouse gases? On top of that, you can be safe in the knowlege that your commendably healthy mid-afternoon snack had been manhandled by a snotty-fingered warehouse youth. And, of course, after consuming your much improved morsel (or, rather, all three of them in one go, as they don’t come in single packs, now that would be unecomonical), your fingers will be nicely coated in sticky banana bits.

Evidently, though, some people failed to appreciate all these advantages, and the product disappeared from the shelves pretty swiftly.

But whatever possessed the Billa bods in the first place…?

When posed this question, the supermarket’s feedback was that its great banana innovation strategy had not been conceived within the echelons of management, but was instigated by staff working on their own initiative, and that it would endeavour to inform its employees better in the future. Splendid idea. They do sound like the teachable sort.

Next, a much more sophisticated way of interfering with bananas is brought to you by an Agentinian company called DestapaBanana. (“Destapar” means “to uncover”, “take the lid off”, “to open”, etc – just to give you a clue of the barbarity that is about to ensue).

So, these guys have made it their raison d’être to bore a hole into one end of its unsuspecting victim, suck the core out of it, and then squirt if full of whatever gunk happens to come to hand, e.g. chocolate sauce, caramel, cream, strawberry mush, etc.

I mean, I’m all for enjoying bananas with tasty accompaniments – roll on, delicious chocolate-doused, cream-enveloped and nut-sprinkled banana splits – but, surely, this is NOT the most appetising way to go about it!

I posted once about the idiosynchrasies of Japanese fruit preferences, so I expect that you won’t be too surprised to hear that the Japanese have come up with their own – and very high brow! – technique of banana manipulation.

The Toyoka Chuo Seika fruit company imports its (bog standard to start with) bananas from the Philippines, and, after arrival, consigns them to a ripening chamber. Nothing fancy about that.

But then the madness kicks off. Or rather, Mozart. His String Quartet No. 17 and Piano Concerto No. 5 in D major, are but two of his many musical masterpieces deemed suitable for piping into the makeshift auditorium. After one week of having their music appreciation capabilities thusly enhanced, the “Mozart Bananas” are fit to graduate.

The company is convinced that this exposure to the pinnacle of Western culture makes the fruit sweeter. There must be something to it, otherwise they wouldn’t succeed in selling them for three times the price of their unmusical cousins…

OK. So the Japanese may fiddle to their bananas, but at least they don’t violate them.

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4 thoughts on “Food Follies: Daft Things People do to Bananas

  1. Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface

    I never liked bananas, but why would someone even think of changing them? In terms of their natural packaging, they are a nearly perfect fruit. I say nearly perfect because they bruise easily and no one likes a mushy banana, certainly not I. Still, a natural, totally biodegradable airtight wrapper and “holder” should not and cannot be improved upon (unless they can make it bruise and squash proof — and even then, at what cost?).

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      The food industry does some crazy things!
      Re. bruising – the bananas we get in the supermarkets are pretty bruise-proof. There are many varieties grown in various parts of the world, e.g. the Canary Banana, which aren’t suitable for export because it bruises so easily. When I was in Costa Rica a few years ago, I ate some lovely red-skinned bananas, but again, they don’t export those.
      Thanks for commenting!

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