I've Come To Say: Yes, We Have Bananas

I've Come To Say: Yes, We Have Bananas


Bananas have become pretty much a staple food in America (and also a source of much sexual innuendo, see below), but they are a comparatively recent addition to food culture in Western civilization.

It's obvious that before the opening up of the New World and global trade routes and technologies that bananas weren't easily accessible to Europeans. But even as late as the Victorian period, when one could buy them, they weren't exactly a popular food item. And not because of Victorian prudery. Many Victorians complained the fruit tasted like soap.

By 1910, however, bananas were consumed widely enough that slipping on a banana peel became a trope in Western physical comedy

According to Wikepedia, an American comedy recording from 1910 features a popular character of the time, "Uncle Josh", claiming to describe his own such incident:

Now I don't think much of the man that throws a banana peelin' on the sidewalk, and I don't think much of the banana peel that throws a man on the sidewalk neither ... my foot hit the bananer peelin' and I went up in the air, and I come down ker-plunk, jist as I was pickin' myself up a little boy come runnin' across the street ... he says, "Oh mister, won't you please do that agin? My little brother didn't see you do it."

The song “Yes, We Have No Bananas” was written by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn and originally released in 1923; for many decades, it was the best-selling sheet music in history. Since then then the song has been rerecorded several times and has been particularly popular during banana shortages.

Banana shortages occurred during WWII in England primarily because of the Japanese takeover of Malaysia; in America, which did not suffer such an involuntary shortage, they had become such a staple of cookery by the 1950s that bizarre concoctions such as the infamous ham and banana cassserole.


The Chiquita banana lady became iconic; in fact, she died recently. Her name was Monica Lewis; I remember her in a smaller part as a secretary who gets pushed out of an elevator in the movie Earthquake.

Bananas as aphrodisiacs tie into the old sympathetic magic idea that the the shape of an item ties into the physical and emotional qualities of similarly-shaped items (like the mandrake root, another reputed sexual energy source, which resembles a cock and balls). The shape resembles that of the penis; but interestingly enough, the symbolism may actually reflect reality, because they also contain bromelain, an enzyme which Dr. Oz says triggers testosterone production, and the fruit's potassium and vitamin B elevate energy levels.

The phallic allusions in bananas are ominipresent. In fact, the cover artwork for the debut album of The Velvet Underground features a banana made by Andy Warhol. On the original vinyl LP version, the design allowed the listener to "peel" this banana to find a pink, peeled phallic banana on the inside.

I think it's the act of peeling the fruit and having to basically hold the soft inside and swallow it as one long object (one only need maybe to cut it up when it gets too small to hold) that seems to evoke endless potentials for sexual innuendo.

Even films that show someone eating a banana in reverse seem to evoke endless fascination on youtube (I remember seeing one on the children's show Zoom in the 1970s). In this case, the soft becomes hard again, I guess.

Beulah, peel me a banana. No, wait, get this stud below to do it. Yum!

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And Now for the Lighter Side ... Some Fun Sex Quotes


It's pretty much a given, that, as humans, we often laugh at what others think is taboo, or in fact, anything that really makes us uncomfortable.


(My students, though technically adults, still laugh at the word toilet.)

The greatest comedians have known that a joke about sex usually gets a laugh, and the best ones don't always have to necessarily be that graphic.

Here are a few zingers from The Big Book of Famous Sex “Quotes.”


Mae West

A terrible thing happened to me last night – nothing. – Phyllis Diller

Home is heaven and orgies are vile
But you need an orgy once in a while. – Ogden Nash

The perfect lover is one who turns into a pizza at 4 a.m. – Charles Pierce

I know so much about men because I went to night school. – Mae West

Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets. – Andy Warhol

Pornography is in the groin of the beholder. – Anonymous

Oral sex: the taste of things to come. – Anonymous

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