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By Julie Lain
If you’ve ever wondered why some welcome signs have a pineapple on them, look no further. Doormats and flags all over the U.S. feature a design of the tropical fruit, but what does it mean? The welcome pineapple has been around for centuries and has been commonly served to visitors in prestigious homes, hotels and restaurants. Turns out, the exotic food is a symbol of hospitality.
It started in 1493 when Christopher Columbus took his second trip over the Atlantic to the Caribbean Islands. He discovered pineapples in Guadalupe and decided to bring them to Renaissance Europe where fresh fruit was a rarity. Named for its resemblance to pine cones, the fruit quickly became a popular dish and hostesses began serving them to guests who came to visit. They would place one in the center of a table as an extension of the warmest welcome. They would sometimes even have the design of a pineapple carved onto the headboards of guest beds. After the meal, the fruit would often then be served as dessert.
In the following centuries, the pineapple continued to be a popular commodity. In New England, a sailor would set a fresh pineapple on their porch or a fencepost upon their arrival to signal that they had returned home and were available for visitors. Soon, innkeepers would also feature the fruit on advertisements and even had bedposts carved in the shape of pineapples. To this day, an image of a pineapple is still found on the front doors of hotels and restaurants as a sign of hospitality to customers.
Needless to say, the pineapple isn’t just a random image that’s used on mats and doors—there is an actual story behind it. It has a long history of being used inside and outside of homes and businesses to let others know their stay would be well received. It is considered not only a staple in exotic recipes, but a way of representing friendliness and comradery. You may even see the image of a pineapple on the door of a family restaurant or on someone’s home décor and now, you’ll know the meaning behind it.