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February 1, 2023 40 mins

The banana we eat today is not the same kind our grandparents grew up eating. Today’s variety, called the Cavendish, is generally regarded as the bland successor to the richer tasting Gros Michel (French for “Big Mike”) of yesteryear. But when a deadly fungus ravaged the Gros Michel in the mid-20th century, the banana barons had no choice but to make a switch. Mo talks with ‘Banana’ expert Dan Koeppel about the surprising history of the fruit, and talks - and sings! - with Broadway legend André De Shields.

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
We have no bananas. That's Louis Prima singing the novelty
song Yes we have No Bananas in nine. The song
was actually written in a century ago and was so
popular a million copies of its sheet music sold in

(00:27):
a matter of months. As Variety wrote, its success is unexplainable,
although the title as a catch line may be a
cause we have no bananas today. That title came from
a phrase supposedly uttered by a Greek grocer at a
Long Island fruit stand. Some believe the song was inspired

(00:51):
by an actual banana shortage. Regardless, the song was such
a craze that demand for the fruit skyrocketed, causing a
well runs on bananas and now. It might surprise you
that the banana that everyone was going eight four at
the time was not the banana you find at your
local grocery store today. This was an entirely different variety

(01:14):
of banana, one that dominated the US market for decades
in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries.
Its name the grow Michell French for big Mike. For many,
this was the only banana they would ever know, and
it was delicious, has a nicer taste and more banana

(01:37):
eat taste. It is better than the banana we eat now.
When the grow Michelle had to be replaced, banana companies
weren't sure the new banana, the one we eat today,
which is known as the Caven dish, would even be accepted.
When the switch had to happen, they were like, no
housewife is going to buy these because they just don't
taste as good. So what happened to this loved banana

(02:01):
We'll explain, and along the way take a look back
at some other forgotten foods, and I'll chat with Broadway
legend Andre de Shields about his special banana memories. And
that's what you want for it to be. You wanted
to change your default consciousness. Otherwise why eat it? And

(02:21):
yes there will be singing. We've strink beans and onions
and big juicy lemon and all sorts of fruit, and
say from CBS Sunday morning, and I heart I'm Morocca.
And this is mobituaries, this moment, the groomy shell death

(02:48):
of a banana. Ah, the sound of mourning. Actually it's

(03:11):
this sound that means morning to me, The dulcet tones
of frozen bananas getting ground up. That's pretty much the
only way I consume bananas these days in a blender
with some other ingredients. To me, a banana is simply
a potassium delivery system, too boring to eat on its own,
which is why I was fascinated to learn that this

(03:33):
wasn't always the case. That my grandparents enjoyed much better bananas.
So how did we get here to these blah banas.
I never intended to be sort of the world expert
on any particular topic, let alone bananas, but I have
come to um not just accepted, but embrace it. That's

(03:54):
Dan Capell, the author of Banana, The Fate of the
Fruit that Changed the World. He's researched and traveled the world,
learning everything there is to know about bananas. Bananas were
the very first cultivated fruit, and so we're talking ten
thousand or more years that bananas have been part of

(04:14):
the human diet and the human story. Actually, but in
terms of bananas being available to people who don't live
in places where bananas can grow, um, that's less than
a hundred fifty years. The earliest bananas grew in the
wild in Southeast Asia and then spread to other parts
of the world. Spanish and Portuguese explorers and missionaries brought

(04:37):
bananas to the New World in the fifteen hundreds, where
the fruit would flourish in the Caribbean and Central America.
The banana made its splashy US debut at the Centennial
Exhibition in Philadelphia in eighteen seventy six. The event marking
the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence introduced it's

(04:59):
nearly ten mill the visitors to all sorts of innovations.
Heinz Ketchup, a steam powered monorail, a suitcase that turned
into a bathtub really, and Alexander Graham Bell's invention of
a little something called the telephone, which is funny because
as a child, I'm sure I tried to talk into
a banana. But the banana plant in the exhibitions Horticultural

(05:21):
Hall was reportedly such a sensation that a guard had
to be put on lookout to prevent visitors from trying
to grab a souvenir. Had people seen pictures of it
before or did it just come as this surprise, this
thing from almost like outer space. I think that exhibition
probably made the banana more real to people. These exhibitions

(05:44):
captured people's imaginations especially the imaginations of some entrepreneurs who
then started looking at ways to bring bananas to the US.
Those entrepreneurs began scouting tropical regions where bananas flourished, and
while there were a number of rieties to choose from,
sellers seized on the gromy shell banana, first grown on

(06:06):
the Caribbean island of Martinique in the eighteen thirties. That
in Jamaica, the groomy shell had spread throughout the Caribbean
and Central America, and it became top banana in the
US largely for one reason. The most important thing is
that it's going to survive shipping. If dozens of us shipping,
nothing else matters. And the grower shell survives shipping better

(06:27):
than any other banana because of its tough skin and
and it's slow ripening characteristics. And so that was the
one that they were going to make their money on.
Another benefit, every banana in the bunch or finger in
the hand, if we're using proper terminology here, was exactly
the same. Okay, quick banana biology lesson. You've probably noticed

(06:50):
that the bananas you eat don't have seeds, those little
black circles you might see. Our vestigial seeds remnants of
an early species of banana. No seeds means bananas reproduce
by a transplanting a piece of one plant, known as
a sucker, to start growing another. They're basically clones. This
means that most every banana we eat is genetically identical,

(07:13):
tasting exactly the same, but also equally vulnerable. With every
major company growing and selling the groomy shell and only
the grow michell, the banana industry established what's called a monoculture,
growing only one variety of a single crop. It would
prove to be a dangerous gambit. After settling on the

(07:35):
growny shell, the entrepreneurs needed to figure out how to
bring these bananas in mass quantities to the United States.
One of the first major companies to figure this out
was the United Fruit, which would later become Chiquita. The
company devised and innovative solution refrigerated shipping. This is not
in the days of ubiquitous refrigeration. These banana ships had

(08:00):
ice in them, tons and tons of ice that were
put in these colds, and there were these elaborate ventilation
systems into the cargo holes that would direct the cold
towards them. The ships were painted white to keep them cool.
Those refrigerated ships, each of which could carry up to
a half million bananas, would become known as the Great
White Fleet, eventually the largest private navy in the world.

(08:26):
But there were still a few hurdles for the banana business,
namely getting consumers to accept the product. For many of
the prim and proper women of the Victorian era, eating
a banana was simply too risque given the fruits suggestive shape.
Many chose to slice or cut up their bananas and
hide them in foil. To dispel the notion that banana

(08:49):
eating was shameful, postcards were distributed showing perfectly respectable ladies
delicately consuming the fruit out in the open. I have
a few of them, of the very proper Victorian ladies
holding bananas eating bananas. Um, they're weird. How are they?
How are they holding them? That's not suggestive. They're holding

(09:10):
them like they're at picnics, and you know they're eating
them peeled with the peel hanging down on their hands
instead of cut up. Um, and they're very proper. As
inhibitions faded, that consumer had to be educated. Then they
had to be seduced, because they had. I mean, knowing
about it isn't enough. You have to want it, And
then they had to be taught how to eat them
and keep them. The banana was so foreign to so many,

(09:34):
including immigrants at Ellis Island who were often given a
banana as their first taste of America, that newspapers had
to explain how to let them ripen and how to
peel them. People also needed to be sold on the
health benefits. United Fruit started using innovative tactics like getting
doctors to endorse bananas as a great source of nutrition

(09:55):
for babies, and after partnering up with another new food
on the market, cornfl as, the banana companies helped revolutionize
the consumer experience. They came up with what was basically
the first supermarket coupon, and the banana companies basically say
we're gonna offer a deal. If you buy milk, corn

(10:16):
flakes and bananas, you'll get a refund or a coupon
for the milk for free. Really smart because the banana
companies didn't pay for it. They convinced the milk companies
to pay for it. But it was the banana company's idea.
It all worked. Bananas went mainstream no longer considered an
exotic luxury item. Bananas were everywhere, and they were cheap,

(10:37):
becoming known as the poor man's fruit. With ubiquity came
good and bad. The good clever inventions like the banana split,
just don't ask where it originated. Several towns take credit.
And the bad that heskey banana appeal, which was becoming
a hazard on city streets. A New York Times article

(10:58):
from a TV before notes that a wealthy merchant age
seventy five slipped on a banana peel while coming home
from church and broke his leg. Quote he is not
expected to recover. The creation of the New York City
Sanitation Department was absolutely a reaction to the ubiquity of
banana peals, and these uniform sanitation men were sent through

(11:19):
the city to help solve this hazard. The police were
also on the case. In eighteen nineties six, Theodore Roosevelt,
then commissioner of the New York City Police Department, warned
his men of banana peals and their quote tendency to
toss people into the air and bring them down with
terrific force on the hard pavement. But rather than slip

(11:41):
in popularity, bananas continued on their way to becoming the
dominant fruit in America. In the early nineteen hundreds, consumption
nearly tripled from fifteen million bunches sold to over forty million,
out selling apples and oranges, and by the nineteen twenties,
bananas were firmly entrenched in popular culture and even in language.

(12:05):
The flapper slang term banana oil translated to nonsense when
he tells you, I annoy you that banana oil, and
all die for you that banana on. Just a few
years later, George and Ira Gershwin would have a hit
with but not for Me, using bananas to mean just

(12:27):
playing crazy. I never water here from any cheerful Pollyanna,
who tells face supplies amazing, it's a banana silent. Film
stars like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin turned that dastardly

(12:50):
banana peal into a classic comedy gag, and Yes we
have No Bananas even got a sequel song sung here
by an exasperated Eddie. Can't hey, hey, no, can take
them away? Bananas, and specifically gromy shell bananas. We're here

(13:16):
to stay, or so people thought, coming up a gromy
shehall taste test with Broadway superstar Andre to Shields. But first,
a mobituary tribute to another popular food of the past.
It's been called America's forgotten fruit. I'm talking, of course,

(13:37):
about the paw paw. Large, oblong and misshapen on the outside,
a fruit that only a mother could love. With a
custardy flesh and nickel sized seeds on the inside, the
papa tastes like a cross between a mango and a banana.
Found in at least twenty six states, the paw paw

(13:58):
was a staple of many of American diets, a favorite
dessert of George Washington, served chilled apparently, and eaten by
Lewis and Clark and their men on their expedition. The
fruit was even the subject of a song sung here
by Burl Lives Whero. Where is dear little Susie Whero?
Where is dear little Susie Whero? Where is dear little Susie?

(14:20):
We're down under the ball? So why did the papa
go bye bye? Much of it has to do with
the fact that it ripens quickly and doesn't ship well,
so you're not going to find it at the modern
day supermarket. You have to forage for it, and really
who has the time? Also, it's a little messied beat.
New York Times article notes a woman could not eat

(14:42):
a pawpaw in front of her lover because quote, the
site is disgusting to the point of utter disillusion. Still,
papas are out there. You just need to find them.
Perhaps they're ripe for a comeback. So you want that

(15:10):
to meet the wizard. That's the legendary Andre to Shields
playing the Wizard in the Broadway musical The Whiz. Andre
has been electrifying audiences for decades. You either got the
hell on, Hey, that's Tom Hain't nonibo wad down Town

(15:35):
went down under the ground and finally won his first
Tony Award for Hades Town in at age seventy three, Baltimore, Maryland.
Are you in the house? I am making good on
my promise that I would come to New York and

(15:58):
become someone you'd be proud to call your native son
or Banana is a luxury growing up. I grew up
in a food desert. There was hardly anything that was
considered produce, and even if it were, it wouldn't have
been fresh. You look at it and you think, oh,

(16:21):
I shouldn't eat this, but that's the banana that we
we're able to buy in our neighborhood. But as he
ventured out in the world, Andre became a banana expert
of sorts. Banana is more easily peeled if you do
it from its black tip as opposed to the green stem.

(16:44):
So pull off the black tip and eat it. I've
never done that. Then peel the banana. You're not wasting
any part of this. But I told you it was
serendipitous when you asked Andrea d Ship to come on
your podcast and talk about the banana Andre de peals.
Back in the nineteen sixties, he even participated in one

(17:06):
of the more trippy banana pads. Eat the banana, throw
the peels into an oven. Once they're baked, the fiber
on the inside becomes a lovely substitute for marijuana. Are
you serious, I'm serious. So you you're smoking banana peals. Yeah,

(17:28):
not the peel, but the fiber on the inside. Now,
Andrea wasn't the only one doing this. A number of
newspapers and magazines at the time shared stories on the
popular trend, as well as recipes. A smoke to banana
peel recipe was featured in the Notorious Anarchist cookbook, and
many people also believed that the seven hit song Mellow

(17:51):
Yellow was about smoking banana peels netana grace. In fact,
the song wasn't about that. What's more, researchers and the
FDA would investigate and determine that banana peels had no

(18:13):
hallucinogenic properties. But it made for some good stories and
probably some fun parties. Regardless. Andre is someone who knows
a good banana, and with so many banana variety has
grown around the world, he's tasted more than a few
in his travels. He told me about a transformative experience
he had while touring the United Arab Emirates in It

(18:37):
was a banana that kicked but knocked me out. It
was intoxicating, and that's what you want fruit to be.
You wanted to change your default consciousness. Otherwise why eat it?
And when I ate it, it tasted like a solid

(18:57):
version of a cream sickle. Okay, like candy almost ice cream,
a dessert, a dessert dessert exactly. It made me feel
like I needed to repent. It was a guilty pleasure.
It was a guilty pleasure, and you know, to have
a banana. Do that to you is so surprising. We

(19:20):
have become accustomed to a bland, utilitarian banana exactly. The
banana that Andre eight in the UAE might well have
been a variety similar to the blue java or ice
cream banana grown in Asia, Australia and Hawaii, said to
have a creamy texture like vanilla ice cream or custard.

(19:42):
M m. You see, there are other more exotic varieties
of bananas out there. In fact, there are still gromy
shell bananas being grown on small lot farms. We acquired
some from a specialty grower in Miami for a taste
test on this very podcast with Andre to Shields. Would

(20:02):
he find it as exciting as legend has it. For
the sake of comparison, we started with today's banana of
the Cavendish. This is the one you buy at your
local supermarket, and exciting it is not. Okay, so we're
going to take a bite. I'm ready when you are.

(20:27):
This is your traditional taste of a banana that you
would slice on to your cereal. There's nothing intense about
this flavor. If this banana were a personality, what would
that personality be? The one we just tasted the BBC News,

(20:50):
the BBC News banana, which is dependable or reliable, But
but what devoid of emotion? Right? No razzled asks? And
then it was time time to taste the groomy shell. No,
here we go, Okay, it's time, it's time. Bla, what

(21:18):
do you think? It's a richer taste. It tastes definitely
like it's come from the earth. This banana, the gro michell,
had a little more maturity to it. It was slightly sexier.

(21:42):
I wanted to chew it more slowly. I wanted to
roll it around in my mouth. It had a few
more tones, earthier, more mature, sexier. Who wouldn't want a
gromy shell. People today don't know that they have settled

(22:02):
for a lesser banana today. I think people do understand that.
But in terms of present day America, that's the deal.
You want to take it home. We want to leave
it on the counter for a few days. We want
to forget about it and then we'll go back. And
we wanted to look exactly like it was when we
bought it, or we're not going to eat it. Andre

(22:24):
To Shields is a performer par excellence. He can sing,
he can dance, he can wax poetic about bananas. So
at the end of our conversation, I had one final request.
I was praying that Tony Emmy and Grammy Award winning
Andrea Shields would indulge my desire to sing, yes we
have no bananas, a short version of it, indulging, Oh,

(22:52):
yes we have no bananas. We have no bananas. Today
we've strink beans and onions and big juicy lemon and
all sorts of fruit, and say we have an old
fashion tomacro how long island potato? But yes, we have

(23:21):
no bananas. We have no bananas. We've got no bananas.
We have no bananas. To dat common hats off the
Peggy Lee. Why Peggy Lee? If that's all there is,

(23:45):
just keep dancing up. Next the Demise of the Groomy Shell.
But first another mobituary tribute toy Forgotten Food. It was
nine and NASA was preparing to and the first man
to the Moon. Of course, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and
Michael Collins would have to eat when they were in space.

(24:07):
They couldn't just drink tang, So NASA teamed up with
Pillsbury to create some innovative products, one of which was
a rod shaped food designed for the astronauts to easily
consume in their space suits. Enter the space food stick.
With the American public going space crazy, Pillsbury decided to

(24:28):
create a commercial version. Today, the United States has engaged
in a gigantic effort to send men to the Moon.
For this effort, Pillsbury has developed many special foods. Here
is the first one to be made available to the public.
Marketed as a new idea in snack foods, Space food
Sticks came wrapped in shiny foil to give that space

(24:49):
age appearance, and perhaps to jazz up the fact that
the product kind of looked like a wooden dowl. The
sticks came in flavors like chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter.
Ads proclaimed that the sticks were only about forty four calories,
but they nourish like a major meal. But just two
years after space food Sticks hit the market, the novelty

(25:10):
had worn off. Pillsbury decided to remove the word space
from the name, and consumers seemed even less interested in
buying food sticks. The product would eventually be discontinued. Space
food Sticks are long gone, but are now hailed as
a forerunner to today's energy bars. That's one small step

(25:30):
for man, one giant leap for snack food at your
grosses next to the instant breakfast section, space food sticks
the energy snack from US Aerospace Research and Pillsbury. That's

(26:00):
Harry Belafonte singing Dao, also known as the Banana boats
song Mr Dali Mandali Di Banan. The tune was adapted
from a Jamaican folk song believed to be sung by
doc workers in the early nineteen hundreds as they worked
overnight to pack bananas onto ships seven foot. While the

(26:28):
beloved song is fun to sing, it's ultimately about a
serious struggle, one that many people were facing as bananas
became big business. The business model of bananas is to
sell them for half the price of apples and oranges.
That's banana author Dan Capell again. How do they do it?
They do it by limiting the costs that they had

(26:50):
control over, and those two costs were land and labor.
And to get land, they would come up with these
deals with Basically, the banana entrepreneurs owned all this land,
and then to get labor, they exploited people. There's no
other way to put it. By the beginning of the
twentieth century, the United Fruit Company owned land, employed thousands,

(27:14):
and controlled railroads and utilities throughout much of Latin America
and the Caribbean. The rapid acquisition of geographical and political
control led to the company's nickname El Polpo the octopus.
Banana workers became ponds of United Fruit and its competitor,
Standard Fruit, later known as Dole. The companies seemed to

(27:36):
stop at nothing to get bananas harvested and shipped to
the United States. The Central American nations that produced bananas
for United Fruit and others became known as banana republics. Yes,
I know you might be thinking of that place where
you buy khakis, but the origin of the term is
far darker. Coined by author oh Henry, it came to

(27:58):
mean governments centrally controlled by these banana companies, to the
detriment of the people who actually lived there. They would
install friendly governments. The workers had no rights. It was
tragic and horrible. And this is the paradox of the banana.
The fruit that we love so much comes with a very,
very bloody cost that is mostly unknown and hidden to

(28:20):
the average consumer. Then and now strikes riots and demands
for better wages became common, but they were tamped down,
often violently. In the Colombian military put an end to
a strike in the town of Sienaga by opening fire
on demonstrating United Fruit banana workers in what became known

(28:43):
as the Banana Massacre, an event that would later be
incorporated into the Gabrielle Garcia Marquez novel One Hundred Years
of Solitude. The death toll by some instruments was as
high as two thousand. Another dramatic intervention happened several decades later,
in nineteen fifty four and the form of a coup
in Guatemala to oust the democratically elected president Hakabo R Ben's.

(29:09):
He has campaigned on banana workers rights. He's been very careful.
He has not asked for a lot. He's asked for
some basic stuff, increases in pay. He's asked for some
land back. But the banana companies can't abide this. And
at this point in nine the banana companies are deeply,
deeply involved in the United States government, so they have

(29:32):
a lot of pole. At the time, United Fruit controlled
fort of Guatemala's land, so our Ben's plans for a
grarian reform were unacceptable. To the company. United Fruit launched
a public relations campaign to convince the US government and
the public that our Ben's was a communist and that

(29:52):
Guatemala was a Soviet satellite state in the making, that
commissioned so called studies on the situation, lobbied newspapers to
convey their preferred narrative, and eventually put out a short
film entitled why the Kremlin hates Bananas and Therefore the
agents of international Communism have selected the United Fruit Company

(30:14):
as a prime target of attack. Remember this was the
nineteen fifties and the height of the Red Scare, and
while Guatemalan President Urbans did have some Communists in his coalition,
there was no evidence that he himself was one, much
less working in concert with the Soviets. His idol was
said to be f d R, and many of his

(30:35):
social reforms were patterned after the New Deal. Nonetheless, President
Eisenhower was convinced that the R Ben's government posed a
threat and authorized the CIA to oust him. A coup
was put into motion using radio propaganda, bombing raids, and
a small band of Guatemalan exiles and Central American mercenaries.

(30:58):
This results in the brutal overthrow of the Guatemalan government
and the chaos that comes after that. Once our bands
is deposed, he's humiliated, he's stripped, naked, forced to flee
to Mexico, and Guatemala never really recovers from that. For
forty or fifty years. Meanwhile, on the home front, United

(31:19):
Fruit continued to win hearts and minds, providing books and
pamphlets to schools on the value of bananas you might
call it banana Ganda, and making movies like Journey to
Banana Land. Today, fast white steamships travel across the Caribbean
with cargoes more valuable than pirates. Gold officers and trim

(31:41):
white uniforms pick up their golden cargoes from a place
we called Banana Lam. The film goes inside Central American
countries where everyone is hard at work but also happy,
of course, as bananas are harvested. As the plant bends,
the bunch comes down on the shoulder of another man
who has called a backer. Each bunch ways from fifte

(32:03):
seventy five palms. The United Fruit wanted people to buy
their bananas and their bananas only, and a few years
earlier had come up with a way to get brand
recognition in the form of a certain cartoon character with
a memorable tingle. I'm Takita Banana, and I've come to
say bananas have to ripen in a certain way, and

(32:25):
when they click with brown and have a golden hue,
bananas tastes the best and not the best for you.
Animated spokes banana, Miss Chiquita was an instant hit. Anyway
you want to eat them, it's impossible to beat them.
But banana is like the climate of a very very
tropical equador. So you should never put bananas in the

(32:50):
refriger on sidebar. With all due respect to Miss Chiquita,
her parent company now notes it is okay to put
bananas in the refrigerator after they've ripened. It'll keep them
fresh just a little longer. The animated banana with a
bowl of fruit on her head was modeled after a
movie star, Carmen Miranda, known as the Brazilian Bombshell, who

(33:15):
had shimmied and sombered her way to box office gold
in the nineteen forties, at one point becoming the highest
paid actress in Hollywood. Are you at there? Why does
everybody look at me? And then begin to talk about
the Pristmas three, I hope. That means that everyone he's
glad to see the Lady and the two footi head.

(33:39):
Carmen Miranda played on the stereotype of the fiery, tempered
and lustful Latin American woman, but her talent was undeniable.
Her lady in the two d fruity hat number in
the film, The Gang's All Here is a banana extravaganza
as dancers wave giant bananas around. The New York Times

(34:00):
review of the film did note that the dance numbers
quote seemed to stem straight from Freud. They weren't wrong.
Carmen Miranda was inextricably tied to the banana, as she
would often remind but don't forget people. I think there
was lots of money being made with bananas for Carmen Miranda,

(34:23):
United Fruit and others, but time was running out for
the groomy shell. Trouble had been brewing since the early
nineteen hundreds when bananas in Panama were infected by a
fungus so it's named Panama disease. And this fung is
not only destroys banana plantations very quickly, but thouls the

(34:46):
soil in a way that the bananas cannot grow there
pretty much ever again, and remember that banana biology lesson
from earlier. The fact that each groomy shell banana was
essentially a clone of every other groomy shell banana meant
that if one banana were in danger, they all were.
When Panama disease first hit, companies tried to outrun it,

(35:09):
moving to different fields, starting over. But the disease was
spreading fast and thousands of acres of land had to
be abandoned. Its spread to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras.
So you have this insane situation. Demand is increasing, you
need to keep prices low, but land is getting more

(35:31):
difficult to find because of this disease. Finally, after decades
of battling Panama disease, the banana companies had to face facts.
The grow Michelle as a mass market banana was doomed.
They needed to find another variety. Changing the whole industry
to another banana, which is a huge logistical issue, becomes

(35:53):
sort of the worst choice to the sort of hide bound,
entrenched banana barons. They don't want to do younger. You wait,
it's the only choice, right, right, And so it's doll
that begins experimenting with a replacement for the grow michell
um and experiments with a whole bunch of them, and
Cavendish is one of them. The Cavendish began to replace

(36:13):
the grow michell in the late nineteen fifties. Now, as
I've made clear, I find the Cavendish to be a
boring banana. If you heard our season one episode on
sitcom Deaths and Disappearances, you may remember the story of
the two Darren's from Bewitched, two actors in the same role,
the second one far lesser memorable than the first. You

(36:36):
know where this is going. The Cavendish is the second
Darren of bananas. There I've said it. It's also smaller
than the groomy shell, and it bruises more easily. But
it wasn't as susceptible to Panama disease. Would Americans accept
this new, lesser banana. There were concerns, but as Dan

(36:56):
Capell says, they ultimately didn't matter. Maybe it's the beginning
of the age of fast food. Maybe the American palette
is not so sophisticated. The transition who went fairly smoothly.
I think there were very few people who sort of
saw this new banana and recognize it as a new banana,
or even taste it and said, you know, this doesn't
taste right, It's not as good as the other one.

(37:17):
By the nineteen sixties the transition was complete. Big Banana
sold their final groomy shells in In the years since,
we've all come to tolerate, if not embrace, the caven dish.
But the Cavendish itself is also in danger, vulnerable to

(37:37):
a number of diseases. And it's entirely possible that, yes,
we have no bananas, could become our reality if the
cabin dish goes the way of the groomy shell. If
you were to eulogize to groomy shell, what might you say?
I would say, it's nice to eulogize the growmer shell,
and it clearly deserves eulogizing. But are good bananas out there,

(38:01):
other bananas that are even better. And the idea that
we should just give up and just accept this mediocre
banana um and lament the better banana that's lost does
not have to be the future of the banana. We
can get those great bananas. You're a banana optimist. I am.
I am the ultimate Banana Optimists. We leave you now

(38:25):
with Broadway superstar Andrea Shields singing the Chaqueta Banana song
and Jack the Banana and I'm here to say, but
banana on your series like this today you loveth the
breakfast or at any time, no matter when you eat it,

(38:46):
those bananas tastes fine. We're going to issue that as
its own single. I hope you savored this Mobituary. May
I ask you to please rate and review our podcast.
You can also follow Mobituaries on Facebook and Instagram, and

(39:07):
you can follow me on Twitter at Morocca. Here. All
new episodes of Mobituaries every Wednesday. Wherever you get your
podcasts and check out Mobituaries. Great Lives Worth Reliving the
New York Times best selling book, now available in paperback
and audiobook. It includes plenty of stories not in the podcast.

(39:27):
This episode of Mobituaries was produced by Zoe Marcus. Our
team of producers also includes Aaron Shrank, Wilcome Martinez Cacceto,
and Me Morocca. It was edited by Moral Walls and
engineered by Josh Hahn, with fact checking by Katherine Newhan.
Our production company is me On Media. Our archival producer

(39:49):
is Jamie Benson. Our theme music is written by Daniel Hart.
Indispensable support from Craig Swaggler, Dustin Gerveis, Alan Pang, Reggie Basil,
and everyone at CBS News Radio. The Irrefutable Aaron Shrink
is our senior producer. Executive producers for Mobituaries include Steve

(40:09):
Raise's and Morocco. The series is created by Yours truly
and as always, undying thanks to Rand Morrison and John
carp for helping breathe life into Mobituaries
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