Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker knew there’s always money in the banana stand

Blog of Funny Names first reeled me in because 1) it made me laugh and 2) it was not about food. Because food is my profession and obsession, I tend to immerse myself in all things culinary. Blogging is no exception and most blogs I read and follow are food-focused.

Which is how I come to you with the authority to say that there is a boatload of banana bread recipes in the blogosphere. Everywhere you click, you find banana bread. You’ll see traditional loaves as well as versions featuring browned butter, bourbon, vegan ingredients, chocolate, gluten-free flours, flax seed, whole grains, cake mixes, chia, nuts, etc. It seems there is no end to the variety of banana breads that can be created. I’ve written up banana bread myself multiple times and will always jump at any new recipe that comes along.

Cap'n Dow Baker and his beard

Cap’n Dow Baker and his beard

Banana bread fever aside, I’ve learned that I can’t just talk food when my turn comes round at BoFN. Funny names must be involved. So as my monthly post drew near, I wondered if the person we had to thank for banana bread might have a funny name. Unable to find any one individual credited with inventing banana bread, I expanded my search to anyone who helped bring bananas into being. And that is how I found my man.

Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker was an American sailor and businessman whose travels from the Orinoco to Jamaica and finally to Boston are said to have launched the modern banana production industry. No kidding. He launched the industry that made all blogosphere banana bread possible. He is the Banana King.

It began in 1870, when young Captain Baker returned from Jamaica with lots of bananas–160 bunches to be exact. Unfortunately, said bananas were spoiled when he arrived. So Baker returned the next year to bring home a cargo of green bananas. As bananas do, they ripened to a lovely yellow-gold, encouraging Baker to buy more boats and expand his banana fleet.

In 1881, Baker and his brother-in-law, Elisha Hopkins, organized L.D.Baker and Co. in hopes of selling more bananas. Four years later, they offered public stock in their Boston Fruit Company, which in 1899 became United Fruit Company. Eventually United Fruit became Chiquita Brands International, known for its little blue stickers and the logo of the lovely lady with fruit on her hat.

the little blue sticker

the little blue sticker

the lady with fruit in her hat

the lady with fruit on her hat

Much debt is owed to Baker and his ingenuity in growing a banana empire. Without him, we may not have been able to overbuy bananas. And if we couldn’t overbuy bananas, these tropical fruits wouldn’t overripen on the kitchen counter. And without the overripened bananas, there would be no push to make banana bread. The blogosphere would be that much emptier a place.

To celebrate Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker, I urge you all to overbuy bananas and make a loaf of this classic quickbread favorite. You’ll have no shortage of recipes to choose from.

Chiquita!

Chiquita!

Seal_LLC (2)

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About Liz

Owner of deLizious Food Communications. Projects include recipe development, editing, and formatting; food writing and editing; nutrition analysis; public speaking and cooking instruction. Past and present clients: General Mills, Green Giant Fresh, Hormel, Minnesota Beef Council, Minnesota Soybean, Minnesota Pork Producers, Norwood Promotional Products, Pillsbury, Tad Ware, and Weight Watchers Publishing. Mother of two young girls.
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32 Responses to Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker knew there’s always money in the banana stand

  1. wdydfae says:

    Seeing discolored ikcy banana goo was one of my traumatic experiences at FFF, but you’ve more than made up for it with this tip top banana post!

    I always loved the Chiquita Banana song though it would probably be offensive in the present day on a coupla different levels.

    • Liz says:

      retro AND food? This is brilliant and thank you ever so much diddy. I LOVE this video. Too funny. Salads, pies, baby’s diet, but heaven’s no not the refrigerator.

      So the browned banana goo turned you off for good, huh? Wondered why I didn’t see you around anymore. Last week I talked tofu, so thinking you wouldn’t have liked that any better. Am still waiting for amb to have us over to her place to co-host that cocktail party. I’ve even bought a dress for the occasion. (Really, I did not, but wanting her to think I did to guilt her into making time for us. I’m crafty like that.)

      Hope you have an excellent April Fool’s Day, diddy.

  2. kerbey says:

    You made me read the word “Orinoco,” like “Orinoco Flow,” and I hate Enya, so now I am mad. Yesterday I bought bananas, explaining to my son that it was Monday and on Mondays, the store only offers blackened dead bananas or lime green unripened, so it’s lose-lose. Also, as I was purchasing a bottle of sangria, there was a bottle of banana bread beer right next to it. !! So your post is timely. I did not purchase it. Cap’n Baker looks kind. I would have broken bread with him.

    • Liz says:

      ok, so ‘fess up–just how many cups of coffee were flooding your bloodstream when you wrote this comment? You’re making me scramble here, but I’ll give it a go. OK…

      1) I can’t help how you read words, Kerbey. And I don’t know Enya so well. (not googling either as I finally got KL out of my head and I don’t need another) Please don’t be mad. Here, have a slice of banana bread–does that help?

      2) Buy bananas Tues-Sun.

      3) Banana bread beer? Blecgh–who came up with that one? Eating banana bread while drinking beer? Sure. But would you crumble that bbread into your beer? I think not. Good call on not buying. Also, good call on buying the sangria.

      4) Am certain cap’n Baker would’ve broken (banana) bread with you as well.

      • kerbey says:

        Well, 4 cups of coffee only filled 2 mugs. You know how that goes. I’m just grumbly today. Next, I will have guava juice. I forgive you the Orinoco and will instead think of Aruba, Jamaica.

        • Liz says:

          well that’s better then. Yes, I know the coffee conundrum. I can make a whole pot and it only fills one of my (larger) mugs. ??

          • kerbey says:

            There must be some theorem that explains that, as well as how I can drive 100 miles on my first quarter tank of gas, and then 6 miles on my last quarter.

  3. Dave says:

    1. A food guy named Baker. I smell some nominative determinism!

    2. The pictures in this post are delightful!

    3. Banana is one of those inherently funny words, like unitard or gelatinous.

    4. I love the riff about overbuying bananas, then them overripening, then that turning into banana bread.

    5. Fun little pro wrestling anecdote I learned thanks to Rob: former pro wrestler Pat Patterson was French Canadian and never used to pronounce the letter s, so in one of Mick Foley’s books, he related a story about Pat Patterson (now working in the front office as a match booker) discussing adding an interesting feature to a match. Pat Patterson got really excited and said “The crowd will go BANANA!” and then Mick Foley responded… “Yeah, they’ll go totally NUT!!”

    You’re welcome 🙂

  4. Arto says:

    Banana bread is tasty. When I make it, I google banana bread, click page 14 on the search results (because the cute little blogs with funny little pictures are back there) and ta-da, banana bread! So you must be right about the large number of banana bread blogs.

    Enjoyed this tale of a baker-enabler named Baker. And it’s not even an April Fools, as far as I can tell!

    • Liz says:

      Arto! (channeling my inner amb, haha) Love that you have practical experience of what I write–the plethora of bbread recipes to be found online. I know there are lots of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cakes, etc, as well, but for whatever reason, banana bread seems to come out on top. Why is that, I wonder.

      An April Fool’s post would have been clever, but I hadn’t realized that day was today until my husband’s shoelaces got tied together by my kids. Will be watching my back when they come home from school.

      Thanks for coming over and joining the banana party. I have the perfect cake for you so stay tuned.

  5. How is it no one has given a nod for the beard shout out? Cap’n Baker indeed has a lovely beard. And a lovely smile, which is a bit out of place for a photo of that era.

    Great post. Viva la banana. Would you please pass the butter. 😉

    • Liz says:

      Thanks, Tracy. Viva la banana–I am liking that very much. And here is that butter you requested. *Liz passes butter to Tracy*

      Dow Baker does seem like a pleasant man. And that beard would have taken a special sort of trimming, you’re right.

  6. ksbeth says:

    i love fresh banana bread and i love the old commercial i love that fact that his name was baker, it was pre-ordained that his living would be made from food of some sort.

  7. paralaxvu says:

    Harry and Dayo and I applaud your banana references. Oh, BTW, remember the Bic Banana? It was a yellow ballpoint which was advertised by a couple of apes singing masterfully, “Bah-nah-nah!” several times. I still sing that myself whenever I see one. A banana, that is, not an ape. Well, maybe I would if I saw an ape, too, but I haven’t, so there ya go. (It’s okay, my significant other just shakes his head at me, too.)

    • Liz says:

      hey, no judgement here, paralaxvu. You’re always welcome at BoFN and your comments always appreciated.

      My 11-year-old has been known to shout “bah-nah-nah!” back and forth with a friend for long stretches of time. I don’t remember the bic banana and thinking they have no idea, but maybe that’s where it came from?

      If your sig other is shaking his head at you, then you must be doing something right 🙂 Thanks for stopping by the banananananana fiesta.

  8. amb says:

    I love bananas, and banana bread, and this post, too. And there are even cartoons!! Gotta love it when I come home from a crazy day in Corporate World to find all of my favourite things in one post! Another awesome one as always, Liz 😀

    • Liz says:

      oh, amb, I was worried you weren’t going to come. And then I’d have to serve the banana bread drowning in mini pb cups to the others when I really baked it for you! Thanks for coming by and am glad you liked the cartoons. Diddy’s clip was a gold-star addition.

  9. wdydfae says:

    Liz Liz bo biz
    Banana fana fo fizz
    Fee fi mo Ms.

    Liz!

    • Liz says:

      ha, haven’t heard that one in a looooooong time. And I think it was “Beth Beth bo Beth” back in the day, so your Liz jingle may be a first. Thanks for the cheer 🙂

  10. Pingback: puppies, not ponies: time for another birthday cake | food for fun

  11. HotDish says:

    I have to wonder if those “spoiled” bananas wouldn’t have made a whole boatload of extra sweet banana bread…?

  12. Pingback: Crescent Dragonwagon, etc: The Summer Slide Edition | The Blog of Funny Names

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