[Blind Box] #8 Tempting Banana Recipes

Could this innocent recipe pamphlet actually be a piece of anti-Communist propaganda?…

…well, not entirely, but it was created within an American culture rife with anti-Communist sentiments. And bananas–those tasty Central American delights–were not without political import. Let’s peel back the layers…

According to the United Fruit Company Historical Society (that this exists hints the scope this company once had),

Between 1955 and 1962 United Fruit published around 15 million pieces of literature for [American] students in elementary grades through high school to promote the learning of bananas and the health benefits of their consumption…

While it is difficult to be certain that the pamphlet in question was created for schools, we will assume this to be so for the sake of the argument. Even if it wasn’t, the overarching principles still apply.

So what happens when a major corporation is allowed to “promote the learning” of their keystone product in schools? Naturally, their primary objective, however veiled, will be to condition young consumers. We need to go no further than the first two words of the “About Bananas” section to appreciate this point: Buy bananas. The shrewd minds behind this flyer also offer additional free banana recipes by post to any interested parties, knowing full well that implicit in the offer is the guarantee that its recipient will be buying more [Chiquita] bananas. Of course, there are some informative bits interspersed between these bookends.

So where, then, does Communism enter? We travel now to the Guatemala, arguably United Fruit’s most important banana republic, where just three years prior, then President Jacobo Arbenz instituted the Agrarian Reform Act (1953) that redistributed vast quantities of fruit plots to landless peasants. Back in the US, this came to be understood as Guatemala spreading its “Marxist tentacles” throughout Central America.

A year later, Guatemalan dissidents staged a coup, backed by the United State, overthrowing Arbenz. The story grows more complex from here, but in essence, United Fruit–ruthless Captialists at home, with alleged Communist bedfellows abroad–lost the favor of the American government, and shortly after began their decline. All this, over a piece of fruit.

One question remains: are these recipes really tempting? Banana scallops, banana and shrimp curry, banana flank steak?!

Stay tuned to find out.

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