Charleston’s history with the pineapple

The pineapple at Waterfront Park | Photo via @jdross75

Did you know that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality here in Charleston? The pineapple isn’t native to Charleston though, so… how did that happen? 

The pineapple came to Charleston from South America by way of the Caribbean because of Charleston’s prominence as a port city. Fruits + other sweets weren’t very common in the colonial days, so the pineapple was a hit. It was an exotic, never-before-seen fruit and quickly became a symbol of hospitality

And while the history of exactly how + why the pineapple came to mean so much to Charleston is fuzzy, a common belief is that we have sailors to thank for making pineapples synonymous with our southern hospitality. When sailors would come home after a long trip at sea, they would often spear a pineapple onto their fence post to let everyone know they made it home safely.

The speared pineapple was an invitation to come in for a drink or a meal + exchange stories of travel. Pineapples also came to represent luxury because they were so difficult to come by, took years to grow, and often went bad before arriving on the SC coast. 

Because they were so hard to come by, if your hostess offered you pineapple it meant they considered you to be someone to impress, while also showcasing their wealth  + ability to care for guests.

We don’t spear pineapples to our fences anymore, but these days the pineapple can still be found on local menus, jewelry, gate embellishments, and of course – the pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park — which welcomes visitors near + far.