A Popular, Delicious Fruit Was Killed By The Logging Industry
If you ever find yourself in England, locked in a grocery store and forced to browse, you might see bottles labeled “blackcurrant syrup.” When this syrup is mixed with water, you get a tasty berry drink whose flavor you may never have experienced if you’re from the United States. In fact, you may have not even seen the word “blackcurrant” until right now. Elsewhere in the building, you’ll run into blackcurrant jam and blackcurrant scones, and will wolf the stuff down right there in the store.
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In the candy aisle, bags of Skittles and Starbursts will contain individual pieces flavored with blackcurrant. These, you should know, are the worst-tasting pieces in the whole bag, but the Brits do like them, so you’ll still fume at having been denied access to them for so long. “Is there just a whole fruit that doesn’t exist in America? Why?”
Like so many things, this mystery can be traced to a conspiracy of lumberjacks. Blackcurrants used to grow in the United States. Then in 1911, America’s logging lobby got the federal government to ban the fruit nationwide. They believed that blackcurrants carry a disease called white pine blister rust, which sounds sexually transmitted, but actually affects pine trees. This belief turned out to be not entirely valid, but they believed it really hard, and pine lumber was really important, so the ban went through.