Photos courtesy Dole Food Co.
Before cavendish bananas were the norm, bananas were shipped by the stalk instead of in corrugated cartons. Standard Fruit and Steamship Co., the precursor to Dole Food Co., was instrumental in leading the industry shift to new packaging 50 years ago.
It was a tough sell to customers and the industry, who were skeptical boxed and water-cooled bananas would provide a permanent solution to all the problems bananas growers and importers faced for so long, Paschal said.
A 1960 press release from Standard Fruit announcing its new innovation heralds the âuniform ripeningâ of boxed bananas and the âsuperb qualityâ of the fruit at retail, promising fruit free from pests, blemishes and scarring.
âAs you would imagine the development of the banana box had a monumental impact on our industry,â said William Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Food Co., Westlake Village, Calif.
âIt brought about much better fruit selection than before, improved quality of the portions of fruit being shipped, it made transportation significantly more efficientâ in terms of weight.
After working out the kinks of transition to a different ripening and cooling system, Paul Yoder, who was part of Standard Fruitâs marketing team, said thatâs exactly what consumers got.
Yoder started with Standard Fruit in the early 1960s and said it was a complicated project to undertake but gave the company the lead in bananas.
âWe were the only ones shipping cavendish in boxes,â said Yoder, who plans to attend the reunion.
Paschal said the occasion of the 50th anniversary meant the timing was right to get the group back together, many of whom retired decades ago.
More than 100 people expect to attend, Paschal said, to see each other after more than 30 years and remember what is like to change the banana industry.