Posts Tagged With: San Joaquin Valley

120/365: National Raisin Day

You might just shrivel up and die if you don’t get to experience the sweet succulence of today’s food holiday. April 30 is National Raisin Day!

I talked about the history of raisins back when we were eating them dipped in chocolate, so I won’t rehash all of that. It does explain why some of these posts are shrinking in size, however (hey, just like dried grapes!): we’re starting to get into variations of the same things we’ve already eaten. This is where it’s time to get creative. So, here goes:

Man, I got nothin’.

OK, I kid. I did learn that National Raisin Day is one of the older American food holidays that we celebrate. It dates back to 1909, when Fresno resident James Horseburgh Jr., in an effort to save the fledgling San Joaquin Valley raisin industry and raise awareness of the dried fruit, held a giant festival celebrating all things raisin. Local hotels and the railroad industry pitched in, and residents were served raisins with every meal. The festival was a success, and the industry took off in central California. To this day, the San Joaquin Valley is the world’s largest raisin producer.

There are so many different ways to enjoy raisins, we weren’t sure what to do to celebrate today. But one thing was certain: we are getting sick of desserts. (This does not bode well for June, where at least 10 of the first 15 food holidays are dessert-centric). So Tara took some in to work to snack on, and I added a generous handful to a bowl of oatmeal this morning.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

83/365: National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day

No need to be raisin a fuss today, especially if you like chocolate and shriveled-up dry fruit. March 24 is National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day!

Raisins were an accidental discovery. People had been eating grapes for centuries, but sometime around 1500 B.C. a lazy farmhand in the Middle East left grapes to dry on the vine too long, and they shriveled up. Turns out this was a good thing, as they discovered the dried grapes were sweet, delicious, and easy to store. Raisin comes from the Latin word racemus, meaning “a bunch of grapes.” Phoenicians and Armenians traded raisins with the Romans and Greeks, who were so enamored of the fruit they decorated places of worship with raisins, and handed them out as prizes in sporting contests. Gotta admit, they’re a lot tastier than gold medals given in the Olympics! Vineyards were developed in Spain and Greece, and the Crusaders introduced them to Europe in the 11th century. They were believed to have great medicinal properties and soon became so popular that two jars of raisins could be traded for a slave in ancient Rome! In America, the San Joaquin Valley became known as “raisin valley” with the introduction of the Thompson seedless grape, and is the world’s largest producer of raisins today.

Chocolate covered raisins were first introduced around 1927, when the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company in Philadelphia rolled out Raisenets. They quickly became a popular treat with moviegoers, who liked the contrast between the sweet and creamy chocolate covered raisins and hot, salty popcorn. To this day they are frequently sold in concession stands, but cost a lot more than the nickel a box proprietors charged back in the 1930s.

Given their history, Tara and I decided to celebrate chocolate covered raisins by (ahem) sneaking some into the movies. (Don’t worry, we paid for the popcorn). Eaten together, they were pretty tasty!

Chocolate Covered Raisins

Categories: Candy, Fruit | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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