Grab a cerveza, tear open a new bag of chips, and kick back with these facts about your favorite bright green zesty spread—in honor of National Guacamole Day.
1. AVOCADOS GO BACK THOUSANDS OF YEARS.
The avocado, first known as the ahuacate, has been cultivated and eaten in Mexico, Central America, and South America as far back as 500 BCE.
2. THE AZTECS INVENTED GUACAMOLE.
When the Spaniards arrived in the New World, they discovered an Aztec sauce called ahuaca-molli; molli was the Nahautl word for “something mashed or pureed,” while ahuactl referred to testicles, or the stone fruit that reminded them of testicles.
3. AVOCADOS HAVE BEEN REBRANDED.
In the early 20th century, our favorite mashable fruit went by the unappealing name “alligator pear,” due to its bumpy green skin. The California Avocado Growers’ Exchange, a trade group, complained in a 1927 statement “That the avocado … should be called an alligator pear is beyond all understanding.” Alligator pear disappeared, and the fruit was called everything from calavo to butter pear to avocado pear before avocado finally stuck.
4. THE AVOCADO HAS FAMOUS RELATIVES.
The avocado trade group also bemoaned the more quotidian foods associated with the avocado, “an exalted member of the laurel family.” Indeed, the avocado is a member of the lauracae family, which also includes bay leaves, cinnamon, camphor, and sassafras.
5. A MAILMAN PATENTED THE MOST POPULAR AVOCADO VARIETY.
There are more than 400 varieties of avocado grown around the world, but the Hass, grown mostly in Mexico and California, is the most popular. A postal worker named Rudolph Hass purchased the seedling from a farmer in 1926 and filed a patent in 1935. The original tree stood, and bore fruit, for nearly 70 years in La Habra Heights, California.
6. CALIFORNIA DOMINATES U.S. AVOCADO PRODUCTION.
7. MEXICAN AVOCADOS WERE ONCE BANNED IN THE U.S.
Beginning in 1914, Hass avocados were not allowed to be imported to the United States from Mexico. After a two-year debate, the USDA lifted the ban in 1997—although approved farms were only allowed to export their crops to 19 U.S. states and were still forbidden from selling in California. In 2002, the U.S. Federal Hass Avocado Promotion, Research, and Information Order was established, and today Mexican avocados are allowed in all 50 states.
8. THE BIGGEST GUACAMOLE SERVING EVER WEIGHED AS MUCH AS SOME ELEPHANTS.
A Guinness World Record was set in 2013 when a group of 450 students in Tancitaro, Michoacan, Mexico prepared a serving of guacamole that weighed 5,885.24 pounds, or almost 3 tons. Asian elephants can weigh anywhere from 2.25-5.5 tons.
This article was originally published in 2016.