Fruit Cocktail: Does it Suck?

Fruit cocktail is a ‘nothing’ kind of food. Lots of people think it sucks. Yet in ways it is an Ethical Food. What is an Ethical Food? Why of course it is a food that fits whatever code of ethics you choose to embrace. But if you don’t want to have to worry about it too very much, it is very easy to find a code of ethics to follow about food simply by googling the term Ethical Food and there will be things online you can read, swallow, and repeat.

How to figure out what to think about fruit cocktail may be a bit more difficult than the more usual things one has to figure out like foie gras or Kobe beef or tuna sashimi – you know, the foods we all eat every day – which therefore are vital to have some story to stick to about when asked by someone who doesn’t have those foods to eat – because fruit cocktail does not exist as something to be discussed much except to either say “It sucks,” or “I like it,” or “Give me all the cherries”.

There’s no separate entry for fruit cocktail in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America but just a note that the term ‘fruit salad’ preceded it – noting who says so and why they say so. But we know, don’t we? That fruit cocktail is not fruit salad. There is no entry for fruit cocktail in The Oxford Companion to Food either.

Is this an example of some sort of national shame? After all, we ‘invented’ fruit cocktail in the United States, as much as one can invent anything. Here’s one explanation of how it all happened:

fruit cocktail has been a staple of the canned fruit industry since at least
the 1940’s.  The combination of pears, grapes, peaches, pineapple,
syrup and bright red cherry halves was one of the most popular products
Del Monte Plant #3 produced.  It is generally agreed that fruit
cocktail was developed as a way make use of the fruit scraps left when
bruised or damaged fruits could not be used in canning.  But the exact
origin of fruit cocktail remains a mystery.

There’s more information given if you read further at the link provided. But here’s what caught my eye: way to make use of the fruit scraps left when bruised or damaged fruits could not be used

Now if that isn’t good husbandry of resources I don’t know what is! Ethical indeed. What else would you do with these fruit scraps? Throw them away? Fruit cocktail may actually be a silk purse made out of a sow’s ear.

Think about it. And while you’re doing so, I’ll just take those cherries please.


5 thoughts on “Fruit Cocktail: Does it Suck?

  1. what i like about fruit cocktail is that someone has washed, cleaned, peeled and chopped the fruit into little pieces for me and i can enjoy it as a whole – if it were left to me, i’d be eating as i washed, cleaned, peeled and chopped, so that by the time the cocktail was ready, my stomach would be full

  2. I only buy dented cans these days, and there hasn’t been fruit cocktail in a long while. I so adore it! In fact, I once dated a boy(yes, he was 20, but still a boy)whose father bartered his skills as an accountant with a number of small local businesses, and I used to always ask to be brought a Carvel “Tropical Sundae”- really a soft serve ice cream covered in canned fruit salad, when he came to call.
    I still adore canned fruit and ice cream. And, I adore fruit salad, specially the cherries. A dash of almond extract enlivens the flavor a great deal, FYI.

  3. Admittedly I’m not all that crazy about fruit cocktail except as an idea. But as an idea, the thing is iconic. So I have to love it. 😀

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