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Grapefruit: the 'Forbidden' Fruit

Contact Author Dave Arthur and Daemmon Reeve, Treatt plc
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What’s in a Name? The moniker ‘grapefruit’ has led a precarious existence — perhaps a reflection of the very fruit it describes. It is generally thought that in 1750, Griffith Hughes recorded the first ever description of the grapefruit — calling it the ‘forbidden fruit.’ The less exotic description, grapefruit, surfaced in 1814 when botanist John Lunan in his work, Hortus Jamaicensis, commented that the fruit was a smaller variety of the pummelo, also known as the shaddock, and should be named after its similarity in flavor to the grape.

As the term grapefruit became more commonly used, horticulturists found it misleading and began an attempt to drop the name in favor of ‘pomelo.’ This only added to the confusion due to the likeness of the grapefruit and the pummelo itself.

In 1962, in an attempt to spice up interest in the fruit, the Florida Citrus Mutual proposed yet another name change. However, no suitable candidate was found and public outcry prevailed, so the grapefruit kept its name.