In case you were wondering, that 7-ft banana serving as Dole’s mascot is named Bobby. You might be seeing a lot of Bobby Banana this year as Dole celebrates the 125th year of its banana business—with contests, partnerships, proclamations, recipes, and more.
The business got its start back in 1899 when three Sicilian brothers—Joseph, Felix, and Lucca Vaccaro—pooled their savings together with their brother-in-law Salvador D’Antoni and started importing bananas from Honduras to New Orleans. Before long, the four entrepreneurs were operating steamships, growing their own fruit, and competing for ice to ship their bananas around the world.
Standard Fruit would later become part of Dole Food, with the Dole Banana becoming the world’s most popular banana and one of the most-purchased grocery items in history. Dole is marking 125 years of farming, shipping, and selling bananas with a year-long celebration. The Dole 125th Banana-versary kicks off with “125 Ways to Be Bananas,” an extensive web and social media series of banana tips and recipes, digital downloads, engagement opportunities, and ways to share banana memories.
“From humble beginnings, Dole has become synonymous with bananas, forever changing the way we experience this delicious and nutritious fruit,” says William Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole. “As we celebrate 125 years of growth, innovation, and our commitment to grow, process, and distribute our produce responsibly, we invite the world to join us on a journey that traces the deep roots of Dole’s past and paves the way for a brighter future.”
New opportunities to join in on the banana fun will be added throughout the year. At the store level, Dole will launch a series of commemorative Dole 125th Banana-versary stickers on millions of Dole Bananas in multiple waves across the U.S. and Canada. The company is working with retailers throughout North America to bring the Dole 125th Banana-versary to shoppers.
Dole’s global initiatives in health, wellness, and sustainability
The Dole 125th Banana-versary will also showcase the ways that Dole has helped shape a brighter future for the banana and produce industry, consumers, and the planet—ranging from social support in communities for banana workers to advances in research for conventional and organic farming. The Dole Way is the company’s three-pronged global sustainability initiative.
In January, Dole kicked off a year of health, wellness, and hunger-relief initiatives by extending its partnership with No Kid Hungry, a campaign of Share Our Strength committed to ending hunger and poverty, for a third consecutive year. The company’s alliance with the national nonprofit began in summer 2020 in response to the impact of COVID-19 when schools closed and millions more U.S. children were left facing hunger.
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Dole’s work with No Kid Hungry includes nutrition education, fundraising support, and at-retail initiatives to help the 13 million kids in the U.S. who are living with hunger to have access to three healthy meals a day. The company was also the presenting sponsor of Get Fit for No Kid Hungry, an influencer-based health and wellness fundraising initiative designed to rally the nation’s top fitness and nutrition experts to host health-related livestream classes and web-based instruction throughout January.
“At Dole, we are committed to providing the tools for a happy, healthy, balanced life for all, and the sponsorship of Get Fit in particular allows us to set a healthy, active tone for 2024 while helping to support the most vulnerable throughout the year,” Goldfield says.