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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Man vs. Banana Peel

We often come across interesting, even amusing, pieces of information here at the Mississippi Library Commission while searching for patron requests.  One short article came from the Clarion-Ledger which focused on a poor, poor soul.  This guy had no idea what he was in for when he crossed paths with a banana peel on July 14, 1954.

There's a cartoon-like quality to this story, or any story that involves slipping on a banana peel, but this has not been the first time a human was unknowingly pitted against a discarded banana peel.  Bananas became a popular snack of choice in the Americas in the early 1900s in part due to their portability.  The leftover peels were often thrown in the gutter, or littered on the streets and sidewalks.  The peels took on a slippery effect once decomposition began, and this was how the accidents began to happen when the human foot met the peel.

“What we know as a movie gag was real enough that in 1909 the St. Louis city council passed an ordinance prohibiting persons from ‘throwing or casting’ a ‘banana rind’ on public streets or sidewalks (another regulation the official body passed that year forbid anyone from allowing a ‘bear to run at large’) (Koeppel 66).”

This awful problem became less so as the decades passed and cities adopted use of street sweepers.  But who knows?  The banana peel may strike again!

Associated Press. “Jackson Man Slips On Peel of Banana; Taken To Hospital.” Clarion-Ledger [Jackson] 14 July 1954, CXVII ed.: 8. Microfilm. Clarion-Ledger Jackson Mississippi July 1954.

Koeppel, Dan.  Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press, 2008. Print.

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