A Symbol of Hospitality

Tracy - May 11, 2012 Hospitality Pineapple

As we were embarking on brainstorming and inspiration gathering for an identity project, we touched on the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality, and wondered how this came to be. It is something that is more widely known on the east coast of America for some reason, but even though it’s known to more people there, it has still become a broad definition for this icon, and it doesn’t seem to be connected directly in a visual way. So, why? What we learned is this:

Christopher Columbus “discovered” the pineapple for the European world when he landed in the Caribbean. He returned to Europe with stories of this sweet fruit, and it became a legendary thing to people who had access to very little fresh fruit. It was a long time before horticulturalists were able to cultivate it, so apparently it was unattainable and highly coveted by peeps with money, like Kings. Thus, the symbol of receiving a pineapple became a symbol of royal privilege.

In Colonial America, as is still (possibly stereotypically) quite often the case on the east coast, hospitality was an important element to society. Hostesses would create elaborate centerpieces for formal visits, showing their creativity and means. Even then, the pineapple was a rare, expensive, and pretty item, so those who could afford and procure it would place it right at the top of their centerpiece, elevating it to a symbol of the best hospitality and welcome.

There is even a legend that says that New England sea captains returning from the Caribbean Islands would bring home pineapples and spear one on a fence post outside their home to let their friends know that they’d returned safely from sea, and inviting them for a visit to share food and drink and hear their stories.

Now, sculpted pineapples adorn fence posts, gates, tapestries, etc, and are frequently seen in hotels and restaurants as a sign of hospitality. It’s fascinating that something can become a symbol like this seemingly by accident.

We’d like to extend a little hospitality of our own in honor of our Junior Designer, Rachael’s, graduation and celebrate with some cocktails at the studio on Friday, May 18th. Let’s say 5ish. Click here for more info and to RSVP. Stop by if you’re around, we’d love to see you!

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