The Fruits in a Typical Fruit Salad, Ranked
It’s the summertime. And summer means barbecues, pool parties, and barbecues that are also pool parties where nobody can swim for 30 minutes. No matter how hard you try to limit your food intake to meat, potato salad, and three other kinds of meat, your conscience (and your blood pressure) will convince you to include some fruits and veggies on that paper plate.
The most logical choice? Fruit salad. It’s easy to make, it tastes refreshing, and it contains tasty, in-season fruits. But don’t be naïve. Not all fruits were created equal. You can put anything in a fruit salad, yet these are the nine most common ingredients. And some are terrible. Here they are, ranked.
This isn’t one you’ll find in every fruit salad -- more like 60% of them. Do you know why? Because not all people are idiots. Only some people are idiots. Don’t get me wrong, blueberries certainly have plenty of applications in this world. Pies for one! And, well. No, they should only go in pies. Because they're insignificant.
You can only really enjoy blueberries when there are many of them, together. But dispersed in a sea of much more prominent fruit, you’ll be lucky to get more than three in one bite. And that’s only if you manage to carefully balance them on your fork (no one eats fruit salad with a spoon) on the way to your mouth without them rolling off, back into the mix, or onto the floor and out of your life forever. Don’t put blueberries in fruit salad.
Inevitably, you’ll find more cantaloupe than any other fruit in a fruit salad. This is something I’ve never quite understood. Cantaloupe is typically pretty bland and generally underwhelming. Even the best cantaloupe you’ve ever had is just “alright.” In fact, if it’s not hard and partly green and mealy, you’ll consider it some pretty damn good cantaloupe in the grand scheme of things. “Hey, it’s actually not disgusting and slightly sweet! Three pieces are enough, though.”
How did the fruit ratios get so out of whack in the first place? It couldn’t have been through lucid thought and well-pondered consideration. It’s as if Big Cantaloupe managed to persuade the Fruit Salad General of the Federal Fruit Salad Mixture Council (the FFSMC, of course) to meet in a dark ally, so they could swap dirty cantaloupe money in exchange for top billing in every American’s summertime bowl. Cantaloupe is why I hate politics.
7. Honeydew melon
Honeydew doesn’t fool me. It is but cantaloupe’s green, sweet-talking cousin. “Look at the honeydew, it seems so smooth and a little exotic. That name just sounds like something you just wanna eat up!” Bullshit. Now, I won’t throw the ‘dew under the bus like cantaloupe, because it can be a memorable experience. At its best, it’s really good. I might even consider eating it by itself! Except it’s hardly EVER at its best. It is the Derrick Rose of the fruit world.
It also exists in large quantities in most fruit salads, but it’s rarely there because of its actual talent. Honeydew is like the seat-fillers at the Academy Awards. It creates the illusion of a room crowded with great quantities of special individuals, but in actuality, it’s just there to take up space. In fact, if they perched actual honeydew melons on each seat at these awards shows, most likely no one would notice the difference.
I love you banana, but I think you’re lost. I’m not sure exactly how you found your way into a bowl filled with melons and berries, but you seem uncomfortably awkward ‘round these parts. And even worse, you look soggy as hell. And you’ve only been here for five minutes. In fact, in the short time since someone added you to the fruit salad, you’ve desperately tried to take on the tastes of every other fruit at the party in a desperate attempt to fit in. And I’m sorry, but that’s a major turnoff.
The only place worse for you to be than in a fruit salad is in Jell-O (don’t tell my grandma). Just be yourself! You know where you’re great? A peanut butter sandwich. When you’re frozen, covered in chocolate, and coated in nuts, you make my day. Hell, just straight out of the peel is a good time. Time to do some soul searching banana, and figure out where you fit in in this world.
I have a feeling I’m gonna catch some heat for this one. Does anyone dislike strawberries? Not that I know of. Do people always want more strawberries in the fruit salad? Almost always, yes. So how come they don’t even get top-four billing? It’s mostly because strawberries are TOO popular.
They have a great rep that they've earned legitimately and are so often used in so many other applications. Strawberry ice cream? Solid. Strawberry pie? Almost as American as apple. Strawberry Nesquik? You better believe I’m on board. With all this acclaim, it just seems that strawberries don’t pull their weight as much as they do in their other iterations. Sure, you might pick them out of the bowl specifically, just because of the name recognition, but there are better, tastier options and there certainly is such a thing as too many strawberries. Next!
Pineapple is a tough fruit to figure out. At first glace, it’s more of a weapon than anything else, and it’s hard as hell to even get to. But, if you put in the time with the biggest knife you own, you might very well be rewarded with the sweetest fruit out of all of them in your bowl. If pineapple was a player in the NFL draft, they’d say that it has a very high upside, but pretty raw. Even the canned stuff ain’t too bad.
But I’m a fruit-salad purist, and for the best possible outcome, you need to use the whole damn fruit, not pre-sliced or what have you. Therein lies the problem, because even though most of us would agree that fresh-cut pineapple is the best pineapple, few of us actually will take the time to buy a whole one and do the chopping. So inevitably, we’ll buy prepackaged or pre-sliced p-apple and settle out of convenience. Until we quit being lazy, pineapple will always be second string.
3. Kiwi fruit
What a strange, amazing, perplexing, unique-ass fruit. You don’t come across it often. And when you do, it’s usually a pleasant surprise to find. This is exactly the role it plays in most fruit salads. If you’re not one of the first five people in line at the buffet table, chances are, you’re not gonna even know that kiwi was included the in the salad in the first place. It’s not that people are kiwi fiends, it’s just that when there’s a commodity that exists in such rare quantities, people are gonna snatch it up.
According to (my) science, there are, on average, three servings of kiwi in a fruit salad. Is it because kiwi fruit are expensive, so people don’t buy many of them for the fruit salad? Is it because people are somewhat uncomfortable with handling large quantities of fruit that, before being cut, generally look like hairy testicles? Are we afraid that we’re actually consuming something cut off of people from New Zealand (see: prior question)? Whatever the true reason is, I don’t really want to know. I love the mystery of the kiwi and its unicorn quality, and if I miss out on it in the fruit salad, so be it. It’ll just make the next time I get a piece that much more satisfying.
You gotta hand it to grapes. They’ve managed to achieve near perfection in the fruit community. They’re diverse (red, green, purple!), they’re plentiful, and they’re always absolutely bursting with flavor. I’ll take a good grape over just about any other fruit every day of the week. You can eat a million of them from the fruit salad and still not feel selfish, because there are 50 million more of them in the bowl. Grapes let you be selfish and indulgent, yet tasteful and healthy.
Here’s the primary reason why grapes rank so high in the fruit salad hierarchy: have you ever had a bad grape? If you answered yes you’re a liar and probably a criminal. Admit it. You love grapes. Your mother loves grapes. Your dog loves grapes. They are essential to every fruit salad because they are the rescue fruit. Right after you take a bite of that mealy cantaloupe or that shitty honeydew, you know, unequivocally, that the next bite is gonna be a grape because there’s no way it’ll disappoint you. Grapes are everything your parents wished you could be.
If there was a food Thunderdome, fruits would send watermelon into the battle. Watermelon is always the collective fruits’ best hope, in almost every scenario you can think of, and that rings especially true in a fruit salad. It’s sweet. It’s juicy. It’s a tantalizing deep red in color in its purest form and nothing says -- nay screams -- summer like watermelon.
Even the worst watermelon you’ve ever had was still pretty good. It was perfectly named and perfectly sized (i.e. usually gigantic). Hell, many times, the fruit salad will be served IN THE HOLLOWED-OUT WATERMELON. The only possible drawback of watermelon in a fruit salad is when some idiot used one with seeds (they probably added blueberries too). But this is easily avoidable because its 2019 people (science!).
Perhaps the most convincing reason that watermelon is without a doubt the best fruit in a fruit salad is this: even after all the watermelon is gone, and everyone has filled their bellies with the lusciously sweet fruit of the gods, its juice at the bottom of the bowl is still the best part of the fruit salad. This is how we know that watermelon can be gone, but never, ever forgotten.
Pete Dombrosky is the Managing Editor at Thrillist and he can be found lingering after the party, drinking the rest of the fruit salad. Share your melon love with him @Pete_Dombrosky.