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The History of Avocados

You see them displayed at the grocery store every week, but do you know the history behind the humble Hass avocado? Avocados were first snacked on not by humans but rather by huge prehistoric creatures like mammoths and giant ground sloths. (In fact, their love of the fruit ultimately helped distribute the seeds!) By 500 B.C., humans had begun cultivating the avocados in Mexico and Central America. They were originally named ahuacatl, the Nahuatl word for "testicle,” but when the fruit reached California in the mid-19th century, the name was changed to a Spanish word, aguacate. In 1915, the name was changed again when California farmers began calling the fruit “avocado.” In 1926, a California postman named Rudolph Hass brought some avocado seedlings home. One of them defied attempts to receive grafts from an existing avocado variety, but eventually bore fruit that tasted better than the then-popular Fuerte variety. Rudolph Hass called the experimental fruits Hass avocados and even patented the original tree in 1935, but sadly never saw much money from his discovery. However, his legacy lives on as around 95% of avocados in the United States and around 80% of avocados worldwide are of the Hass variety today!

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