Monday, February 2, 2009

My Town Monday: the Boysenberry

Here in California, we go out of our way to make life easier for the rest of the world. How do we do this? With our cool creative inventions.* Oh, you ask, just what sorts of things have come out of California?

How do these sound?

"Barbie Dolls, blue jeans, the boysenberry, the pill, white zinfandel wine, the square tomato, natural soda, the computer 'mouse', the wetsuit, and theme parks." (from www.pashnittours.com)

This is a photo of Charles Rudolph Boysen (1895-1950). In the 1920s, Mr. Boysen had a farm. Ee-i-ee-i-o. (Sorry. I couldn't resist). Anyway, Mr. Boysen experimented with crossing various types of berries. His hybrid of a blackberry + raspberry + loganberry grew and bore some fruit. Then, Mr. Boysen sold his farm and became Anaheim's park superintendent and chief horticulturist.




Enter George M. Darrow of the USDA and Southern California farmer Walter Knott who were hot on the trail to find the mysterious hybrid berry. They go to Mr. Boysen's abandoned farm and find a few sickly vines. Farmer Knott nurses them back to health and starts selling the berries in 1935 at his roadside fruit stand. They sold like hot cakes (Once again, I couldn't resist) as fresh berries and in preserves and pies. When asked what the popular large berries were, Farmer Knott replied, "Boysenberries. After their originator." Then his wife, Cordelia, took to frying up chicken and sold that at the stand. The Knott's roadside stand became massively popular. To keep everyone happy while they waited in line, Farmer Knott built a ghost town. And this how the theme park, Knotts Berry Farm began.


And guess what berry is featured on the gates to the Knotts Berry Farm theme park?


See the delicious boysenberry. This aggregate fruit is made up of a bunch of drupes, with each drupe composed of many drupelets. (You never know when info like this can come in handy.)


So, if, one day, you happen to find yourself on the Pill and kicking it in a pair of jeans at a Knotts Berry Farm restaurant, noshing on a salad with slices of a square tomato followed by a generous helping of boysenberry pie while sitting across from your daughter who's playing with a Barbie while sipping a natural soda and chatting about computer research with a mouse that convinced her to wear a wetsuit to SeaWorld, you can raise your glass of Zinfandel and shout, "Thank you, California!"

Please pop over to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our Fearless Leader for My Town Mondays. Along with his own MTM, he'll have a list of participants. And while you're on Travis' blog, you might want to scroll down to Friday, January 30's delightful book review. (Oh fine, yes, it's on I So Don't Do Mysteries.)


*Disclaimer: This, of course, refers to the royal "we." I, personally have never come close to inventing anything cool, creative or otherwise.


sources:
http://www.pashnittours.com/funfacts.html
http://science.kosmix.com/topic/Rudolph_Boysen
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boysenberry
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Boysenberry

Boysen Blackberries on Foodista

37 comments:

Gina Black said...

This I had heard of but *never* in such an entertaining manner.

I raise my glass of square tomato juice in your general direction.

Sepiru Chris said...

Barrie,

What an absolute delight.

I am glad that you couldn't resist.

Tschüss,
Chris

beckylevine said...

Oh, you're making me hungry. We've got a u-pick olallibery farm up here. Every now and then we go and pick tons, then make pies and jam!

texlahoma said...

All I can say is "Thanks California!"
Between myself and my family we love almost all of those things. Boysenberries are something I've never had, they look a lot like blackberries which taste great.

Teresa said...

I love this post, Barrie. Boysenberries are delicious. My favorite jam in the world is the Knott's Berry Farm boysenberry jam that you can buy at Costco. I knew that boysenberries were from California, but not all the other items on the list.

Reb said...

Barrie, thank you for the information about the only jam I will eat! Yes, you read that right...I can't stand jam, I am not a big berry fan (as opposed to a Barrie fan) but I have been known to go through a jar of boysenberry with just one loaf of bread. Yeah, bad I know.

lyzzydee said...

Brilliant!! You certainly have a way with words!!

Beth said...

I've experienced all but eating a square tomato or donning a wetsuit - thank you, California!
(Especially for my old Barbie dolls!)

debra said...

Berry interesting post, Barrie :-)
Who'da thunk it.

Keri Mikulski said...

Interesting.. :) Thanks for Barbie! Love her. :)

blueviolet said...

Well now, that's simply not true. What about your book?

Rebecca Hickman said...

"I prefer boysenberry more than any ordinary jam. I'm a citizens for boysenberry jam fan."
-Simon & Garfinkle

~Virginia~ said...

i've never tried boysenberries. i wish we had a berry picking place around here!

laughingwolf said...

love me them thar berries, barrie :O lol

Rebecca Hickman said...

The quote is from Punky's Dilemna which is the 9th song on Bookends.

Barrie said...

Thank you, Rebecca! You are a truly a singing librarian!

Stacy said...

I thank your region for blue jeans, the pill, and boysenberries, but white zinfandel is nothing to brag about ;)

sara said...

What an educational post. I love learning new things and I had no clue that's how the boysenberry and Knott's Berry Farm came to be. How interesting!

Clare2e said...

When I was a kid in California, we used to got to Knotts Berry, or Magic Mountain, depending. Ah, memories! Tx, Barrie.

But when you wrote: So, if, one day you happen to find yourself..." it was like you had a spy camera trained on my life. Freaky. How else could you know how I spend my weekends?

Travis Erwin said...

Great post. Never knew any of this and you almost convinced this carnivore to try some boysenberries. Almost.

Michele said...

Okay, I have not had Knott's fried chicken and Boysenberry pie in soooo long! Sigh. And it's literally just miles up the road... Just might have to make a trip up there next weekend and do that.

My cholesterol levels thank you. :)

What a fun post, as always!

Laura said...

I love your Monday posts! Learn something new each time! Something yummy good this week!

Kathy Holmes said...

Now you're really speaking to my past. I love,love,love Knott's Berry Farm and going there was my reward for winning the 6th grade spelling bee. :)

Annie said...

Awesome as usual! Hey, I gave you an award. Love the blog!

Have a terrific day Barrie!

Bee said...

I've never heard of the term "drupelet," and I very much hope that I get the chance to show it off someday!

I have heard of Knott's Berry Farms, which always sounded like an improbable concept to me . . . and know sounds delicious!

Charles Gramlich said...

Me likey boysenberry much more than strawberries.

Angela said...

I thought this post was berry good...

Yes now I am going to go eat some berries.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Boysenberries are in everything suddenly.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Boysenberries are in everything suddenly.

gabe said...

Thank you, California, for giving Barrie so much to blog about!

Jenn Jilks said...

Fun post, Barrie! Lots of info to savour.

I am a bit biased, though. I live in the Cranberry Capital of Ontario! Cranberries are my favourite.

Barrie said...

Hey, Jenn! I've been to the cranberry festival in Bala. And it was yummy. ;)

Barbara Martin said...

Thanks, Barrie, for the in-depth look at the Berry Farms of southern California. I have been to Knott's Berry Farm many years ago, and the preserves were yummy.

Stacy Nyikos said...

You had me at Barbie doll! The rest of the U.S. is just forever indebted to all those great minds out in California. No wonder we all want to be California girls :-)

Linda McLaughlin said...

Cute post, Barrie. I've known about the origins of the boysenberry for a while now, so imagine my horror when I read about a 19th c. heroine of a romance novel baking a boysenberry pie before the berries had been invented!

Linda

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

Without California, the northern half of the country would be stuck eating potatoes, wheat, and cows. For childhood, I thank you. Now I ought to write to Spain. Dear Spain, thank you for giving us something to eat in Germany. I can only handle so much bread and braut.
Great post. Totally make me smile.
Katie

Beth said...

Obviously, I've been living under a rock because I've never heard of square tomatoes. So I googled it and they really do exist! Cool!