If you’ve ever stopped into Common Wealth Old City in the past few months, you’ve probably noticed the gigantic cambro filled with pineapple slices and you may have asked yourself, “What’s the deal?” Well, the reason the first thing you see when you walk in the door is pineapples is a nod to a longstanding Southern tradition where all points converge in Charleston, South Carolina.
The pineapple became a sensation in the American colonies. Since fresh pineapple was hard to procure, the hostess who offered it was making a statement of hospitality and affluence. Brokers even rented out fruits for use in decorative centerpieces. Charleston, South Carolina has pineapples all over the city as a sign of greeting and hospitality. Ship captains and sailors would place a pineapple on their fence posts as a symbol for the safe return of seafarers returning from exotic voyages, and it would also serve as an invitation into their homes to share stories of their distant travels.
Even in early New England, seafarers returning from trading voyages would also spear a pineapple atop a stick at their home’s entrance which signified the successful completion of a venture and announcing, “My door is open to visitors!” So to honor that tradition we display our eye-capturing cambro with with vodka infusing with hardy slices of pineapple, to serve as an invitation for patrons, new and old, to come share your stories with us.
Colonial artisans and architects began using the pineapple as a decorative motif because of it’s distinctly exotic look and common symbolism. You’ll find it on bedpost finials, carved into fireplace mantels, and sculpted into doorway lintels. Perhaps the most notable example of Charleston’s historic pineapple architecture is at the Simmons-Edwards House at 14 Legare Street. Built in 1816, “The Pineapple Gates” welcome visitors with stone fruits atop the pillars. Located in the center of the Charleston Waterfront Park, built in 1990 after Hurricane Hugo struck inflicting over $1 million in damages, is the Pineapple Fountain which acts as the park’s focal point.