Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Look out, here comes Dr. Frankenfruit!

August 8, 2014

The other day, I bit into my first pluot. It is a hybrid fruit, both plum and apricot. Apparently, there are a few species of this strange new fruit (new to me). There are apriums and plumcots. Natural plumcot/apriplums have existed for hundreds of years, but I never heard of them. It was the first time I ever tasted one. It was delicious, by the way.

There are several varieties of pluot: Dapple Dandy, Flavor Grenade and Geo Pride. Dapple Dandy sounds like a gay superhero. Flavor Grenade sounds like his weapon of choice. And Geo Pride sounds like an LGBT superhero group of which Dapple Dandy would be a member.

There are other varieties of pluot that include the Razmataz, Mango Tango and Dinosaur Egg. No, I’m not making any of this up.

I had to wonder, like I do, who the heck is doing this to fruit?! What mad scientist is down in his basement laboratory concocting strange combinations of produce? Who is saying to themselves, “You know, I like apricots and I like plums, but I hate having to eat one of each. I want to be able to have my plum and my apricot at the same time.” I am imagining a scientist who is both lazy and extremely ambitious. Who else would invent such dichotomous harvests?

There are grapples (grape apples), limequats (a lime and a kumquat) and lematoes (lemon tomatoes). Though, I am little bit afraid of the lemato. Who needs a tomato and lemon at the same time? Then, I discovered … wait for it … a nectacotum, which is a hybrid variety of the apricot, plum and nectarine. Dr. Frankenfruit, this time you have gone too far.

I had to read the history of the half-breed fruit. Yes. Cher should sing about it. I’m sure the lemato is very conflicted about not being able to be in a salad or in a glass of iced tea (yuck!).

“More than a century ago, horticulturalist Luther Burbank bred the plumcot with a 50-50 split. However, it was Floyd Zaiger who … bred the plumcot with a plum to create the pluot – three-fifths plum and two-fifths apricot – and coined the trademarked moniker. While the plumcot is a simple plum and apricot cross, pluots … are the result of intricate crossbreeding over several generations.”

The eponymous excerpt is from “The Perfect Fruit: Good Breeding, Bad Seeds and the Hunt for the Elusive Pluot” by Chip Brantley. Yes, there is an entire book about this one hybridized fruit. I feel bad for Brantley’s proofreader. Spell check is hating this column.

My strangest discovery about the hybrid fruit was this: The grapefruit is a hybrid. Though, it is not a hybrid between a grape and an orange. It is a hybrid of two citrus species, the pummelo and the sweet orange (Citrus Maxima and Citrus Sinesis). Who knew?

However, I was disappointed to learn the craisin was not a cross between a cranberry and a raisin, but just a dried cranberry. That’s some false advertising right there, Ocean Spray. Maybe they should just start calling them “dried cranberries” to avoid confusion.



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