Around the turn of the century, Carl Schmidt went to Atlixco, Mexico in search of different avocado varieties. He smuggled several seeds back home and planted them. In 1913, a great freeze devastated California farmers. Among the few trees to survive were Schmidt’s. It is reported that the surviving variety was called “Fuerte” and those seeds taken from Mexico provided California a tree that could thrive in the local climate. The U.S. avocado industry was born. In 1914, the U.S. banned all avocado imports from Mexico, claiming a fruit fly was a risk to California crops. Hmmm.
In 1926, a mailman named Rudolph Hass purchased a tree as a seedling in California and planted it in his front yard. The mother tree was patented in 1935 and all Hass avocados can be traced back to grafts made from this tree which lived for 76 years in that yard.
Years of trade wars have been fought over agriculture. It was not until 2006 that Mexico could export into 47 states, the only “protected” holdouts being California, Florida and Hawaii. The following year, the ban was lifted for those three as well. When I originally recorded avocado notes in my diary in 2007, the price of one Hass avocado was $2. Eleven years later I bought one for half as much and total Super Bowl consumption has almost tripled.