The Wall Street Journal’s A-Hed strikes gold (or should I sat yellow) again today, with a story about Amazon’s Community Banana Stand.
In late 2015, Amazon opened its first Community Banana Stand near its Seattle headquarters. The Stand was brainchild of CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, who believed that Amazon should offer everyone near its headquarters—not just employees—healthy, eco-friendly snacks as a public service. It has since expanded to two stands on its corporate campus, which sprawls across several blocks in downtown Seattle, and says it has given out more than 1.7 million free bananas.
The story immediately made me think of the classic Harry Chapin song, “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”, and the line from that song, “Yes, We Have No Bananas, Bananas in Scranton, PA”
That song was the only reference I knew to the line “Yes, We Have No Bananas”, and so I assumed it was a line Harry made up as part of the song. (By the way, on average, a pound of bananas consists of about three bananas, so Amazon has given away almost 600,000 pounds of bananas, the equivalent of 20 trucks full of bananas.)
Well as part of my hours long research in putting together today’s post, I found out that the line actually comes from a novelty song written by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn from the 1922 Broadway revue Make It Snappy. Sung by Eddie Cantor in the revue, the song became a major hit in 1923 (placing No. 1 for five weeks) when it was recorded by Billy Jones, Arthur Hall, Irving Kaufman, and others.
Here is the Billy Jones version:
and the phrase was also a line in a Simpson’s episode:
Some other fun facts about bananas:
- bananas were officially introduced to the U.S. public at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where each banana was wrapped in foil and sold for 10 cents
- they are the world’s most popular fruit, with 105 million tons produced each year
- they are the most popular fruit in the U.S., with the average person eating 25 pounds of bananas per year
- I eat about 5-6 bananas a day, but my son Joey eats about 30 bananas a day
- a bunch of bananas, about 10-20, is known as a hand, and a single banana is known as a finger
- bananas are often referred to as the “world’s most perfect food” because of the many nutritional benefits
So cheers to Amazon for offering a free healthy snack to the residents of Seattle.
And maybe my son should move there, think of all the money he’d save…