Kiwi Berry (1962); Pre fix & Prix fixe dinners

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Apr 11 02:09:08 UTC 2004


   ProQuest's LOS ANGELES TIMES digitization is now through the end of 1962.
   Did Frieda Caplan name this fruit in 1962 or a year later?  Did someone else suggest the name?

As Produce Broker Goes to Market Business Starts to Mushroom
MARY ANN CALLAN. Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Nov 10, 1961. p. A1 (2 pages)
First page:  It's the 7th St. Market for fresh produce, and virtually the only woman in it is Mrs. Frieda Caplan, who as a produce broker moves mushrooms from grower to consumer with the help of her buyers,...
   (This Frieda Caplan article is the only place her name is mentioned so far.  Nothing about the "kiwi"--ed.)

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Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Nov 7, 1962. p. 4 (1 page):
   "YOU HAVE ANY kiwi berries?"  The man's voice was wistful, indicating he was at the end of his rope.
   Ted Kortopates said no, not at the moment, but he'd danged well see if he could get 'em.  He's Ted of Ted & Billie's Fruit and produce stand.
   Well, Ted and Billie started checking reference books and old records and the only thing distantly approaching what the man had asked for in the phone call was the kiwi bird, of New Zealand.
   When the man called again they had to tell him they couldn't locate any kiwi berries.  But a few weeks later, as the result of their hunting around, in came a shipment directly from New Zealand.
   "They were kind of brown and hairy like a mouse," said Billie.
   The guy who'd asked for them in the first place never called back again and now the Kortopateses are out of kiwi berries and don't know when they'll get any more, not that millions are waiting.
   The point to this is that you better keep your eye on Ted & Billie's, the bright new stand in the middle of Fmrs. Mkt.  You're likely to see not only the best that grows, but the unique, too.
   TED & BILLIE have been in this business for years--Ted since he was 19.  Mostly in Chicago, but always on the quality side.  Been wanting to get into Fmrs. Mkt. for seven or eight years, and now you can tell they're real happy to be here.
   Pleasant people with affable apples.  They've arranged their mid-market stand, which is sort of a circle with spokes sticking out, like a still-life painting and sometimes people just stand and look at it, like in a gallery.
   This may not be good for business, but it's good for the soul.
   Don't get the idea everything they handle is as way out as kiwi berries.  They run a full stock of citrus fruit, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, etc., as well as quite a few unusual items we'll tell you about later.
   The reason they fit in so well, they are gone on quality, like the other stands and stalls and shops at THE FARMERS MARKET, 3rd & Fairfax (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
   We think you'll like doing business with them...and they ship fruit packs, too.  We KNOW you'll enjoy just staring at all that lovely stuff.

One day in 1962, a Mormon missionary walked into a Safeway in Los Angeles and asked for a Chinese gooseberry. The produce manager didn't know what that was, so he asked the main produce buyer for Safeway, who, in turn, called Frieda Caplan, the founder of Frieda's Finest, a local wholesaler of specialty produce items. She didn't know, either. A few months later, a broker representing New Zealand farmers was walking around the L.A. wholesale produce market, trying to sell Chinese gooseberries. The other produce buyers weren't interested, but Caplan, remembering the Safeway buyer's query, said, "I'll take all you've got," and that turned out to be two thousand four hundred pounds. "No one is ever going to buy something called a Chinese gooseberry," a shipping official told Caplan. The rind of the gooseberries was kind of furry and reminded him of New Zealand's national bird, so he suggested naming the fruit after it--the kiwi.

People who grow and market unusual fruits tell that story a lot, usually as a way of illustrating the potential that exists in the American marketplace for something new.

       Suddenly, kiwi were everywhere and it was mostly because of Frieda Caplan. In 1962, a customer at a Los Angeles supermarket asked for the little-known Chinese gooseberry. The market manager called Ms. Caplan, president of a small specialty produce company. She found the unusual fruit growing in New Zealand and began importing it.

        The next year, at the suggestion of a produce broker, Ms. Caplan began marketing the Chinese gooseberry as kiwi fruit, because of its association with New Zealand and its resemblance to the fuzzy kiwi bird. Fruit history was made.

        “It was the first new fruit introduced to the Americas since the banana,” says Karen Caplan, president of the Los Angeles company now called Frieda's Inc., and daughter of the company's founder. “And it made Mom an icon in the industry.”


   Opposite Chevy's on 42nd Street, the cinema restaurant offers a "pre fix" menu.  I just walked past Chango's on Park Avenue South and East 19th Street, and it also has a "pre fix" menu.  In New York--where one restaurant copies another restaurant's menu, errors and all--expect this to continue.
   Do they also have a suffix menu?  An infix menu?  How much for the mani-fucking-cotti?
   Here's a look at the Google numbers:

PRE FIX MENU--177 Google hits, 7 Google Groups hits
PRE FIXE MENU--187 Google hits, 10 Google Groups hits
PREFIX MENU--644 Google hits, 49 Google Groups hits
PREFIXE MENU--41 Google hits, 0 Google Groups hits
PRIX FIX MENU--427 Google hits, 37 Google Groups hits
PRIX FIXE MENU--10,200 Google hits, 444 Google Groups hits

PRE FIX DINNER--123 Google hits, 15 Google Groups hits
PRE FIXE DINNER--146 Google hits, 2 Google Groups hits
PREFIX DINNER--49 Google hits, 12 Google Groups hits
PREFIXE DINNER--3 Google hits, 0 Google Groups hits
PRIX FIX DINNER--145 Google hits, 32 Google Groups hits
PRIX FIXE DINNER--4,390 Google hits, 215 Google Groups hits

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