The modern English word for avocado came from the Spanish avogato, which was later corrupted into the word “alligator pear” (don’t ask us how etymology works). Despite its fairly intimidating name, you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant menu that excludes the fruit or a millennial who hasn’t eaten it on sourdough or rye.
Saying that avocados are popular might be an understatement. The frenzy surrounding the fruit reached such a fever pitch in 2017 that Tim Gurner, an Australian real estate mogul, suggested that millennials might be able to buy houses if they stopped spending so much money on avocado toast (which spawned its own share of memes).
They’re certainly good for you; avocados contain 14g of healthy fats per serving and house over 20 vitamins and minerals. However, the fact that fruits are healthy is knowledge that’s been drilled into us since we opened our science textbooks in second grade. Can the avocado’s health benefits explain the fact that in Jumeirah, Omnia Gourmet now serves an avocado burger? The reality is that the humble alligator pear owes its fame to nothing but a clever marketing ploy.
In 20th century America, the avocado was a luxury good restricted to the upper echelons of society due to its restrictive price tag ($24 an avocado!). One day, a Los Angeles farmer, Mr. Rudolph Hass, accidentally created a version of the avocado tree that produced more decadent, delicious fruit than anyone had ever tasted before. His children convinced him to patent the Hass Avocado, which soon became the bestselling avocado variety in the country (now comprising 95% of the avocados eaten today). As the Hass Avocado became more readily adopted by farmers, prices dropped to under 25 cents per avocado, meaning that mainstream society finally took notice of the alligator pear.
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Still, avocados didn’t see nearly as much popularity as they do in America today until 1965, when new laws meant that Latin Americans began immigrating into America in floods and brought their traditional cuisine – which, incidentally, heavily featured avocados. But the avocado frenzy spilled out of America’s borders and travelled abroad with a single golden moment – the Super Bowl, an event watched by millions both in America and abroad. The California Avocado Association paid for an advertisement that prominently featured guacamole, and as the condiment’s fame skyrocketed, as did avocado sales.
Dubai, the world’s glitziest city, is no stranger to the fruit either. In 2013, Dubai Design District (or D3 as it’s more affectionately known) began operation. Officially, it is a masterplan development dedicated to entrepreneurs, start-ups and the design community. To locals, it’s a hipster paradise – rife with acai bowls, matcha smoothies, and of course, avocado toast. Dubai is hardly the only place affected by the avocado boom. The avocado is arguably the trendiest fruit in the world, and it’s hard to believe that its worldwide fame began with a single ad. Can you stomach that?