Queen Victoria and the Forbidden Fruit, 1841

Here’s an advert from a Liverpool greengrocer publicising his recent present to Queen Victoria.

“Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to order the acknowledgement of the box of FORBIDDEN FRUIT, &e., forwarded by MR MIDDLEWOOD, of this town, which arrived in the most perfect state, and was very much approved of at the Royal table.”

Liverpool Mercury, 12th March 1841

Liverpool Mercury, 12th March 1841

Well, if it’s good enough for the Queen it’s good enough for you, Mr Middlewood is telling Liverpool here. But what was forbidden fruit?

The advert says they are “selected the best in Nassau”, and forbidden fruit was actually the first name given to the natural hybrid fruit of the Bahamas, the grapefruit, first discovered in the mid-18th century. Later on it was termed “grapefruit” after the way the fruits grew in clusters on the tree, a bit like grapes. Bit of a name downgrade though.

Mr Middlewood also sells “shaddocks”, which are the citrus fruits now more commonly termed pomelos – although confusingly, both “pomelo” and “shaddock” also used to be names for the grapefruit, and pomelos are one of the ingredients of the cocktail “Forbidden Fruit”.

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ddock really doesn’t sound like the right thing to call a fruit. It just reminds me of that strange creature, the “Shadmock”, in the horror film “The Monster Club”, but then again he’s a hybrid too….

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