Peaches

Odd bits of information about peaches

By Pete Mecca

We Georgians live in a territory of the United States of America affectionately called the Peach State. Did you ever wonder why we revere the peach so much?

According to history buffs, during the 16th century, Franciscan monks introduced peaches to St. Simons and Cumberland Island.

By the 18th century, peaches had become one of the staple crops of the Cherokee Native Americans in North Georgia. Years later, in 1851, a Columbus planter, Raphael Moses, was given credit for being the first to market peaches outside the South.

Georgia’s traditionally favorite white-top crop [cotton] faded in production towards the end of the Civil War as Georgia farmers began looking for alternatives to King Cotton. Thus, peach production skyrocketed.

The new peach crop was recognized for having a superior flavor, appearance, texture, and was rich in nutritious qualities. By 1928, Georgia farmers were producing more than eight million bushels annually, a surge in production which added to the popularity of the nickname, “The Peach State.”

With the speed of a snail crossing an acre of peanut butter, the legislators under the Gold Dome finally recognized the peach as Georgia’s official state fruit on April 7, 1995. Better late than never, I suppose.

Georgia grows a lot of peanuts, too. “Goober,” being an old word for peanut, and being the state’s official crop, not fruit, has given rise to a secondary nickname, “The Goober State.” So far, no athletic organization has taken the nickname for their team, such as the University of Georgia Goobers. Thank the Good Lord.

Georgia is also known as “The Empire State of the South,” a nickname not in much favor among many diehard Rebels. The disfavor is easily understood since New York and Georgia don’t even speak the same language.

Thus ends my history lesson on Georgia’s nickname, “The Peach State.” Moving forward, my red van in the driveway is now yellow. My lawn chairs, deck table, and concrete patio are all yellow. If my dogs stay in the backyard too long, they too turn yellow. I suggest we approach our state representatives to consider a new official nickname for Georgia, “The Pollen State.” Considering the time it took for the peach to become an official nickname, if we citizens apply constant pressure on our legislators, “The Pollen State” may become a reality by the year 2095.

Journalist Pete Mecca served with Air Force Intelligence, including 2½ years in Vietnam. His full-page award-winning narrative “A Veteran’s Story” is featured in Georgia newspapers. Pete lectures and works as a consultant for TV, radio, and patriotic events. His work includes a series of 10-12 books featuring interviews with 400+ veterans of all ranks, branches, and conflicts.

 

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