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National Banana Lovers Day

Today we celebrate the banana—the most popular fruit in the United States and around the world. The average person eats about 100 of them a year, which comes out to about 25 to 33 pounds worth. They are the cheapest fruit and are also one of the most perishable. They may appear to grow on trees, but they actually grow on plants that have 10 to 20 feet high trunks. The banana plant is an herb—the largest herb plant, actually—and bananas are its fruit. The plant grows in the tropics.

Each banana is about 100 calories and is high in fiber and potassium, which are good for treating high blood pressure, ulcers, calcium loss, and some cancers. Bananas are also a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. There are over 1,000 varieties of bananas, but the kind most eaten in the United States is the Cavendish. The Gros Michel was once the most commonly eaten, but in the 1950s it fell victim to a fungus that causes Panama disease, so farmers had to switch to the Cavendish.

Bananas are the oldest cultivated fruit and likely were first domesticated in Southeast Asia. Centuries later, shortly after Europeans arrived in the Western Hemisphere, they were brought from the Canary Islands to Hispaniola. They then spread to other islands, before making it to the mainland. They didn't become widespread in the United States until the end of the nineteenth century. They were so popular in American cities in the early twentieth century that banana peels on the ground became a nuisance and an issue that had to be dealt with. This led to the gag of slipping on banana peels, which was frequently featured in early movies.

Bananas were popularized in part by the United Fruit Company, which was founded in the late nineteenth century, and is now known as Chiquita. They encouraged people to eat bananas with milk and corn flakes, and they put out banana recipe books until the end of the 1950s. The books oftentimes contained adventurous recipes and aimed to get people to eat bananas at every meal. They cast the banana not only as something sweet but also as something similar to a vegetable, like a potato. One example of a recipe from the book is ham banana rolls with cheese sauce. Nowadays, bananas are still eaten in many different ways. Besides being enjoyed plain, they may be fried, may be included in sandwiches, and may be used in pies, puddings, muffins, breads, and cakes—among other things. On National Banana Lovers Day, the sky's the limit as to what can be done with them!

How to Observe National Banana Lovers Day

You should be eating as many bananas and foods made with bananas as possible today. While doing so, perhaps you could read Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World. You could pick up an old United Fruit/Chiquita recipe book to help you decide what to eat, but we have also put together some recipe ideas for you here as well:

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