1. Watermelon (citrullus lanatus)
Nothing says “Welcome back, warm weather” quite like a barbecue with friends or a cold beer. But a distant third is watermelon, and that’s not bad for a fruit. Watermelon had a strong three decades punctuated by mouth-watering bursts of watermelon-flavored water. If fruit shows up in a fun photograph, you can bet it’s watermelon. I love watermelon, we are good friends, and we sometimes hang out together.
Nutritional fact: Watermelon has lycopene (?).
Special power: Tastes even better when spherical.
2. Apple (malus domestica)
Long before iPods and iPads and Macs the humble apple was teaching us about gravity and helping Isaac Newton stay awake in the afternoon.
Apples are socially versatile. Is grandma visiting? Cut one up and eat slices from a bowl. Cool new friend in town? Whip out a pocket knife and eat slices off the knife while pretending to think what you’re doing isn’t awesome.
Nutritional facts: I heard in an airplane line that apples provide a bigger energy boost than caffeine in the afternoon. Apples are also packed with small amounts of phosphorus (?).
Special power: cider.
3. Strawberry (fragaria ananassa)
Strawberries are dependably delicious, especially when someone else cuts the stems off. They own fruit salads. I have seen finished fruit salads with untouched grapes and blueberries, but never strawberries. Strawberries are dignified in spite of being easily forked, and would have a legitimate shot at #1 here if they went bad a little more slowly.
Nutritional facts: Those “seeds” on the outside are actually the fruit’s ovaries with seeds inside of them. Let’s be mature about this, OK? Strawberries have flavonoids (don’t know).
Special power: smoothies, popsicles.
4. Orange (citrus sinensis)
It’s been a rocky road with the orange. It gets points for orange juice and loses points for the unpredictable quality of the fruit itself. Unlike with strawberries, I never bite into an orange confidently. It may be too sour, flavorless, messy. It may also be flavor-packed and deliciously refreshing.
Not knowing what to expect makes the orange the rebel of the fruit group. Maddening, rewarding, challenging.
Nutritional facts: The orange is the only fruit named after a color, if you don’t count red and green apples or grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and assorted other fruits. Oranges have trace amounts of pantothenic acid (wtf?).
Special power: juice with maximum pulp.
5. Pineapple (ananas comosus)
Nothing says tropical quite like a luau or a pig roast on the beach hosted by a ukulele connoisseur. A distant third or fourth is the mighty pineapple, which has the coolest armor in the fruit kingdom. It’s “the armadillo of the fruit aisle” and tastes great when canned in sugar water.
Pineapples are a social fruit. They allow vegetarians to use big knives.
Nutritional facts: In the Philippines, pineapple leaves are turned into edible wallpaper. Pineapples are also packed with manganese, a crucial nutrient most likely.
Special power: pulp bonus in smoothies, juice.
Tomatoes aren’t really a fruit, even though they are. Pizza and pasta sauce, delicious. Raw tomato, questionable. V-8 juice, the friendship’s off.
Blueberries had a strong three decades. Best enjoyed by the fistful. Infuriating when added to a fruit salad served in respectable company. I just don’t have the motor skills.
Grapes are hit and miss. They lose 40% of their appeal on the trip from the grocery store to the kitchen.
Cantaloupe/honeydew are underrated because they’re in the watermelon/pineapple-dominated big huge fruit division. But if you cut me up some honeydew, I wouldn’t complain…aloud.
Grapefruits can hit the spot or sit there for a month waiting for me to attack it with a razor spoon. I never have razor spoons handy.
Cucumbers dominate our vegetable bin. The internet tells me the cucumber is a fruit. Is anything I learned in 3rd grade true?
Cranberries seem confused.
Pomegranates are too much work.