“I must have saffron to colour the Warden pies,” Shakespeare, arbiter of great taste, wrote in A Winter’s Tale. He was talking about pies made from Warden pears, popular at the time after a long history of being used in medieval cooking. In fact, the popularity of pears dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who considered them to be an aphrodisiac and a sacred symbol of the love goddesses, Aphrodite and Venus.
Until the mid-19th century, pears had to be cooked before you could eat them (hence the pie fame), but then along came the game changing Comice and Conference varieties, monopolising pear production and offering a delicious mid-morning snack to eat right off the bat. Sweet and juicy, pears have been lauded ever since for their refreshing taste and nutritional value, being naturally high in fibre and vitamins. After the mid-19th century boom, this humble fruit went from zero to hero, becoming a beloved staple of fruit bowls all around the world.
In 1921, the rather eccentrically named American, Ulysses Prentiss Hedrick, took the pear to even greater heights with his book, The Pears of New York, in which he aimed to, “give an account of the history and uses of the pear; to depict the botanical characters of cultivated pears; [and] to describe pear growing in this country.” (This book followed others in his revered series, namely: Grapes of New York, Plums of New York, Peaches of New York and Cherries of, you guessed it, New York). Hedrick was a great fan of fruit, or to be more precise, a great studier of fruit, being one of the last notable figures in his field of pomology.
While we more commonly associate New York with apples, the pear is nevertheless easily grown among the city’s varied climate, being both hardy and able to withstand the multitude of weather conditions found across North America, Europe and Asia.
Shop the Collection
Explore the products related to this story