November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Casual Observer

Dole pineapples have just the right amount of burrs.


Funny Thing About Pineapples…

by Mark Levy

Quick, think of a joke about pineapples.

It’s not easy, is it?

Actually, this is one instance where the Internet let me down. After much searching, I am embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t find one funny joke about pineapples, and you’d think they would be crying out for humorous social commentary. Perhaps no one wants to take advantage of their odd appearance.

Sure, I found jokes about grapefruits and kiwis and mangoes and pomegranates and even tomatoes, which are fruits, even though we use them in salads. And bananas, of course. Just the word, “banana,” is funny if you’ve drunk too much fermented pineapple juice. But I found no pineapple jokes to relate that even my four-year-old grandson would appreciate, and he laughs at everything I say.

I started doing research about pineapples. There is no consensus about where pineapples originated, although a number of countries have been proposed, including Hawaii, when it was a country, Paraguay, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, and the Guadeloupe Islands in the Caribbean. Some say Christopher Columbus got in the act along the way, transporting them to Queen Isabella, and I have no reason to doubt that, although it wasn’t his most famous accomplishment.

Pineapples are awfully versatile, culinarily speaking. They are used to complement green salads and fruit salads, ham, pork chops, fried rice, pizza, fondue, and Jell-O. You can make ice cream from them, ice cream topping, sorbet, juice, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages with Spanish names.

They can be grilled and eaten by themselves or sliced into rings or bite-sized chunks and eaten with a toothpick. How’s that for simplicity?

Of course, this brings up a number of questions that are probably eating you alive, like:

How do I know if my pineapple is ripe?

What are them little, ugly burrs called, the ones that may are left in the fruit after the skin is removed?

How do I cut pineapples safely?

Is it dangerous to eat them little, ugly burrs?

How do I remove them little, ugly burrs without mangling my pineapple?

What purpose do them little, ugly burrs serve?

Can I place the peeled, outside skin in my garbage disposal?

Can I place them little, ugly burrs in my disposal?

What emergency steps should I take if I puncture myself while cutting a pineapple?

Do them little, ugly burrs have nutritional value?

Are there particular recipes to make them little, ugly burrs delicious?

Are them little, ugly burrs dangerous to my pets?

And probably a thousand other questions about them little, ugly burrs.

I’ll tell you if you haven’t guessed by now that this essay is pretty much totally about pineapples. So if you’re not intensely interested in the subject, it’s not going to get any better. You may want to pour yourself a glass of -– oh, say, orange juice — and come back in a minute.

I have a limited amount of time now, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to discuss them little, ugly burrs after all. By the way, sometimes they’re called “eyes,” but I think that’s way too anthropomorphic, don’t you?

Here’s the good news: I can tell you how to tell if your pineapple is ripe. Smell it right at the fruit stand or grocery store. If it doesn’t smell like anything or if it smells like anything other than a pineapple, don’t buy it. And if you’ve already bought it, don’t eat it. And if you’ve already bitten into it, you might decide not to savor the juice escaping from that first bite and flowing down your chin.

In case you have a bad sense of smell, there’s another way to tell if your pineapple and you should become one. If you can pull off one of the leaves from the very top of the pineapple without much effort, the pineapple is ripe. Hmmmm. Then again, it could be rotten.

Peeling a pineapple can be tricky. The important thing is not to cut yourself with a sharp knife and avoid being gored by the thing. In a way, that’s pretty much the same advice I give to aspiring bullfighters.

Mark Levy is an attorney with the Binghamton-based law firm of Hinman Howard and Kattell. He is a contributing editor to with Ryan Miosek (Feeding the Starving Artist), and an occasional contributor to NPR, where his comments can be heard some Saturdays at noon.