The pineapple is not only an iconic symbol of the Hawaiian islands (in fact, the island of Lanai is nicknamed the “Pineapple Isle”), it is one of the islands’ dominant industries. This wasn’t always the case, however—the pineapple’s history in Hawaii only dates back to the nineteenth century.
Pineapples are actually native to Paraguay and the southern part of Brazil. Natives of that region spread the fruit throughout South America, Central America, and all the way through the Caribbean region, including the West Indies. It was there that Christopher Columbus came upon the fruit and took it back to Europe.
Even with all of this migration, it still took more than 300 years after Columbus for the pineapple to finally make its way to Hawaii. The first appearance of the fruit wasn’t until 1813, when Don Francisco de Paula y Marin, a Spanish advisor to King Kamehameha, brought the pineapple back from a trip abroad. That year, the first pineapple was planted.
Still, it would be years before the pineapple really took off. The mass production of pineapples in Hawaii didn’t start until 1885, when an English Captain named John Kidwell opened his commercial plantation in 1885. Others soon followed, the most famous being the James Dole, who opened his plantation on Oahu in 1901.