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You’ve smashed them on toast. You’ve swirled them in smoothies. You may have even gone rogue and turned them into pasta sauce. But did you know there are even more types of avocados than there are ways to eat them?
It sounds crazy, but it’s actually true! The fruit is one of the most diverse on the scene, with the combination of good taste, good looks (well, sometimes), and that irresistible green cream that’s made them so attractive to humans, and helped ensure their long-lasting proliferation.
And while the U.S. market has long been dominated by one type of avocado (the Haas avocado, to be exact) – which makes up for more than 80% of the dragon pears sold in the States, we here at Fruit Stand love all avocados equally, and would relish (whoops—wrong plant!) the opportunity to shine the light on some of the Haas’ lesser-known—but equally as brilliant—cousins.
Enter: The Monroe Avocado.
Where Do Monroe Avocados Come From?
Marilyn Monroe famously starred in the 1959 comedy classic Some Like It Hot, and the avocado with which she shares her name would agree. These plants like the heat.
Originally, avocados got their start in the sweltering jungles of Central and South America and the Philippines. But after becoming a darling of the conquistador set, they started to pick up some rides, eventually making their way to the U.S. territories around the early 1900s.
And while the Mexican land that would become Southern California got a jump on the avocado craze—with the first orchards planted at least 60 years before Some Like It Hot would be filmed there—it didn’t take long for the plant to put down roots in other heat-prone areas of the country.
For many growers, Florida seemed a natural choice, and the avocado plants seemed to agree. The pea soup-thick humidity and non-stop sun made the little seeds feel right at home, and they sprouted with abandon.
In fact, outside of California, Florida became the number one grower of avocados nationwide, with all number of cultivars developed there, thanks to those prime conditions.
One such cultivar was, of course, the Monroe, which got its first glimpse of the world in 1932 at a farm in Homestead, Florida, owned by local horticulturalist J.J.L. Phillips. And, taking full advantage of the tropical climate, Phillips was able to get his plants to grow bigger—and, some would argue, better—than all the rest.
Are Monroe Avocados Named After Marilyn Monroe?
One of the most common questions—aside from where the fruit comes from—is who the fruit is named after, though star gazers will likely be disappointed by the answer.
Despite all the previous references to Marilyn Monroe that we here at Fruit Stand have shamelessly used as a fun historical reference, the Monroe avocado, sadly, has nothing to do with the starlet.
Indeed, the 1932 mint on the cultivar places its development around 20 years before Norma Jeane Mortenson would even adapt the famous stage name and bare her famous platinum curls.
Still, the diva and the fruit have more than just a name in common.
Like the famous actress, the Monroe avocado is noted for its shapeliness. The massive fruit often weighs in around 2 pounds, making it one of the largest types of avocados grown today—and one of the best for filling up a guacamole bowl.
Both Monroes are also historically renowned for their beauty, with the flawless, smooth green skin of Monroe (the avocado, not Marilyn dressed as an alien) one of its most famous traits in the botany world.
Where the Monroe actually got its name from, however, is a mystery of time. The name was patented by Joseph R. Byrum, owner of the farm where it was first grown, in 1935. But that’s about all we know.
Monroe Avocados Vs. Haas Avocados
Yet, as many similarities as the Monroe avocado shares with the movie star, it has differences with the greater avocado pack – especially the nearly-ubiquitous Haas.
Once again, the biggest difference between Monroe and Haas avocados—or, at least, the most readily noticeable—is their size. Two pounds is large for any fruit, especially compared with the 7-ounce average size of a Haas.
Color, too, comes into play, with the Monroe sporting a lovely green and strangely smooth surface, compared to its more “dragon pear” cousin, which is dark black and pebbly.
But what both differences really boil down to is the type of avocado each variety represents.
The fruit is typically grown in one of two designations: Type A or Type B. The differences aren’t hugely drastic—mostly applying to the ways the fruit’s trees pollinate—but the results lead to vastly different looking specimen. While the Monroe adopts almost all of the typical “Type B” qualities—including its smoother, greener skin and larger size—the Haas is essentially the poster boy for “Type A,” with its smaller growth, and darker, more wrinkly cover.
Happily, what the two fruits do share is the fact that they’re both avocados. In other words: They’re both delicious.
So even though the Haas may hog the spotlight, the Monroe is anything but short of star power.