News-Register file photo
When we have no gold fields to prospect, we look elsewhere for gold. For a time, Yamhill County farmers counted on prunes for that wealth.
It is true that the prune was well known for its laxative effect, but it acquired considerable fame for other reasons — although perhaps not for the value of gold.
One reason for this fame was that no one knew the fruit’s name. Was it a plum? Was it a prune? Was it both?
A suggested definition seeking to resolve that question was, “All prunes are plums but not all plums are prunes.”
And perhaps this is helpful: “A prune is a dried plum of any cultivar.”
Says another source: “The use of the term prune for fresh fruit is obsolete — except when applied to varieties grown for drying.” All of which still leaves one a bit uncertain as to what to call this fruit.
But the prune is one of few fruits to have the U.S. government intercede on its behalf.
Early in the history of the prune, the discovery was made as to its efficiency as a laxative. But the public after a time began to view the prune primarily as a remedy, and it became the butt of joking in that regard.
The prune industry, fearing that would affect sales, appealed to Congress for the right to call a prune a “dried plum.” Approval was given. The prune became a plum.
The prune added more to its fame in California in 1905 during a labor shortage. Some prune growers used monkeys to harvest dried plums.
Can any other fruit make that claim?
The prune also challenged the use of “cheese” as the expression understood by all with regard to photos. In early days of…
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