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Thursday, August 26, 2010

I saw my first Pomegranate tree in 1958

I realize I am definitely dating myself on this one. But that was the year that my parents moved into their home in Los Alamitos, California. We had a huge backyard (I was almost three years old…so it looked like a ranch to me).

My parents decided to plant fruit trees in our backyard…the entire back fence of our backyard was filled with Pomegranate trees (planted in between them were Guava trees…but that’s another story).

As we grew up – of course the trees bore fruit. What to do with those giant red fruits? Naturally, being the first born daughter of an entrepreneur, I would go out to the backyard and pick the fruit, put it in bags and go around my neighborhood (pulling my little red wagon filled with fruit) and try to sell it. Pomegranates were not well known at that time, so I had a hard time selling them.

I recall the harvest was always near the end of October, so we decided that what I couldn’t sell we would give out at Halloween instead of candy.

While that sounded like a great idea…do you have any idea what kids like to do with big red fruits, filled with dark red seeds? They like to throw them at other people! Our Halloween gift idea only lasted one year, as our entire block was filled with dark red stains on the sidewalk.

Fast forward to the late 1990s…I had been working with mom in the produce business for many years and had been selling Pomegranates each fall to our retail clients across the country. One day, I received a phone call from Lynda and Stewart Resnick. They owned Teleflora and the Franklin Mint and a large acreage of Almonds. They asked me to come up to their home in Beverly Hills, as they had some questions about Pomegranates.

I doubt the information we discussed that day changed their business strategy…but you probably know what they eventually did with pomegranates. POM WONDERFUL® (made from fresh squeezed, California grown Pomegranates) reinvented the Pomegranate category, whether it is fresh squeezed juice, tubs of Pomegranate Arils, or freeze dried chocolate covered seeds that are now at Trader Joe’s. You can read about Lynda’s recently published book “Rubies in the Orchard” here - it is an interesting book about her marketing savvy. And she is an incredible marketer.

It made me feel good that Lynda and Stewart called upon our firm to get a feel for market potential. That’s what we’ve done for a lot of growers over the years. We pioneer a product, develop a following and get the product lots of publicity. Then, like in the case of Kiwifruit and Sugar Snap Peas™, the item “takes off” and eventually is grown world wide by many growers, thus requiring a larger network of marketers.

We still sell Pomegranates, Kiwifruit and Sugar Snap Peas™…but we’re not the only ones.

But, maybe you can now see, how we got the name…”The company that changes the way America eats.” It sure makes trying new foods exciting!

Enjoy!

Karen
PS -- When I was at the food show, Fruit Logistica in Berlin this past February, guess which product was selected as the best new product of the year? A new plastic tool, invented in Israel that allows you to easily remove the seeds from Pomegranates!


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4 comments:

  1. My next door neighbors are from Persia. They have several pomegranate trees in both the front and back yards. I am both fortunate and unfortunate because when they fall and "splat" on my patio it's a mess. Don't remember when I had to buy one.

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  2. I too grew up with pomegranates in my Los Alamitos backyard. My mom hated them -- they made a mess on the pavement, were messy to eat, and had no use as part of her 50s cooking sensibilities. Good thing the neighborhood kids came over to pick them. But as soon as she had the chance, Mom had those trees removed. Our loss!

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  3. I'm surprised it took a company that long to design such a tool. I adore pomegranates and eat as many of them as possibly when they're in season, which is not too much longer now!

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  4. Great story. I am growing a dwarf pom tree at the recovery home I'm staying and it's loaded with tiny fruit. Can't wait to harvest and share!

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