The Popularity of Ruby Red Grapefruit in Texas
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The grapefruit came to Texas at the end of the 19th century. At the time, farmers in the Lone Star State were desperate for a new agricultural crop. Cattle and cotton was king, but there was a decided dearth or fruit and vegetable crops. But even so, expectations were low in the wake of the grapefruit's utter failure in Florida.
Why had it failed? Well, it's impossible to blame the grapefruit alone. The fact is the decked was stacked against it from the start. For one thing, the grapefruit was forced to compete against the mighty orange, which had been in Florida for centuries before the grapefruit arrived in 1823. And as you might expect, the new tropical fruit was compared with the orange at every turn. In short, people didn't like it because it was too sour and tart.
So, when the first grapefruit crops were planted in Texas in 1893, expectations were muted. And rightfully so! The original grapefruit was not a hit in South Texas. Again, the locals complained that it was too sour, especially compared to more familiar citrus fruits like oranges and tangerines.
Fortunately, farmers continued cultivating and experimenting with small grapefruit crops. Then in 1929, a major discovery was made. It was a new variety of grapefruit that had red flesh instead of white or pink. Best of all, it was sweet and tangy instead of sour and tart.
Dubbed the Ruby Red grapefruit, it would soon give birth to the Texas grapefruit industry. Why was the Ruby Red so popular? Well, it wasn't the color. For years, people had eaten grapefruit as a breakfast food, in spite of its sour taste. But with the new variety there was no need for wincing. The Ruby was naturally sweet and would become sweeter with a little help from science.
In the beginning, farmers competed with each other to see who could cultivate the reddest and sweetest version of the Ruby Red Grapefruit. Many of these strains were eventually named after the farmers that created them. Of course, they were all sold under the Ruby Red name.
Other versions of the Ruby were created in laboratories in Texas by botanists and scientists who utilized advanced techniques like ionizing radiation. In fact, two of the most popular types of Ruby Red grapefruit–the Rio Red and the Star Ruby–were actually grown in laboratories. Both fruits have obtained registered trademarks and they sell under their own names.
In the end, the Ruby Red grapefruit became so popular in Texas that the state officially eliminated the pink and white varieties in 1962. In retrospect, it was probably the right move since grapefruit sales increased after that.