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Grapefruit Salting Was Originally a Wartime Solution

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Grapefruit Salting Was Originally a Wartime Solution

(CTN News) – The Grapefruit fluorescent-lit aisles of the grocery store may cause increasing anxiety among modern home cooks. According to Market Watch, many staple ingredients, including eggs and butter, will be subject to shortages and price increases due to supply chain issues.

This is due to an outbreak of avian flu. Grocery shopping can sometimes feel like an expensive scavenger hunt.

Grapefruit and salt make an odd but complementary pair

A shortage of sugar caused by World War I led the general public to discover a bitter truth: Grapefruit was difficult to consume without sugar.

As grapefruit was a mega crop for the Florida Citrus Exchange, in 1919 they launched a campaign with the slogan that grapefruits “need no sugar, and should never have much.” Of course, Jan. Salt advertisers came up with a better idea the following year.

Morton’s Salt ran an advertisement in 1943 that stated, “Vitamin-rich grapefruit is one of the fruits Uncle Sam advises you to eat as part of his ‘Victory Food Special’.”

Complete with a heavy dose of patriotic sensibility, this ad proved extremely popular with World War II shoppers and with the U.S. government, according to the American Press. Why did this odd pairing become so popular?

Those who have tried the salty dog, a savory version of the juice-packed greyhound cocktail (via Liquor.com), know salt and grapefruit are natural partners. Specifically, why?

Added salt to grapefruit reduces its bitterness. It makes sense for companies like Morton’s Salt to advertise this beneficial flavor combination to boost sales, but why would the government do so?

Solving problems with a salt shaker

As a result of this scientifically delicious pairing, the government was able to solve three different wartime problems (via NPR).

In the first place, it boosted the domestic economy by encouraging Americans to purchase more domestic foods, thereby reducing their dependence on foreign imports.

As a result, the public’s desire for scarce sugar decreased with the availability of salt shakers to combat bitter flavor.

Third, the government believed that a healthy populace meant a strong nation, so fruit was encouraged as part of a balanced diet.

Oregon.gov reports that nutritious fruits and vegetables were not rationed and were frequently promoted under the slogan “U.S. Needs US Strong – Eat the Basic 7 Every Day”.

The Basic 7 refers to the seven essential food groups. As a result of the introduction of reformulated and improved salted grapefruit, Americans were now able to enjoy this antioxidant-rich citrus fruit in a more enjoyable way.

At least salt your grapefruit for your country if you do not salt it for the magic flavor combination.

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