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Dole-ing out some Pineapple Secrets

#pineapple Aug 06, 2020

Jenny @ 7 YO

I don’t eat Dole Pineapple anymore — or Del Monte for similar reasons. 

But Dole, especially Dole, will never find its way into my kitchen. 

And there’s a reason for that. 

Earlier this year, pre-COVID I headed to Maui, Hawai'i, to film & create for one of my favourite humans.

Before heading there, I did a lot of reading and research on the history of the island, the illegal stealing of the land and the history that the Kingdom of Hawai'i and its peoples experienced.  

And in reading and learning, I learned that you can’t talk about the history without talking about pineapples. 

Specifically, Dole’s pineapples. 

See, James Dole — the person behind the brand —  was the grandson of Daniel Dole, one of the many Christian missionaries that came to the Kingdom of Hawai'i to convert the native Hawai'ians, catalyzing generations of trauma and altering Hawai'i’s history forever. 

More importantly, he was also the cousin of Sanford B. Dole, who along with other American sugar planters were responsible for illegally overthrowing Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawai'ian monarch. Now, while there is a lot of history that comes with this entire story (in fact you should learn it directly from Dr. Kiki), what is important here is this: 

James Dole represents a history of a painful colonization, and ultimate entitlement. 

And yet, James Dole is by and large celebrated in American culture and history.  

In articles as recent as 2019, he is listed as the “marketing genius of a Harvard-educated agriculturist/entrepreneur with an eye toward improving Hawai'i’s economy,” who helped make Hawai'i what it is today. 

The story of James Dole and how he (exploitatively) created the pineapple industry in Hawai'i is widely celebrated… just not by the native Islanders themselves. The people of Hawai’i have to instead endure a steady stream of tourists celebrating the destruction of their land and culture of their ancestors, through excitedly engaging in the wonders that are the Pineapple Express train tour & garden tour, or even a tacky pineapple maze. 

Yeah. It’s not great.

Depending on which version of the narrative you learn, you end up with a very different version of the Hawai’ian history. 

One version of events celebrates the accomplishments of an American entrepreneur extraordinaire. 

The other, in stark contrast, recounts the massive role he played in the appropriation of Hawaiian land and the dismantling of a rich ancestral culture and its peoples. 

But see, it’s not just about which story you hear. It’s also about which story you’re sold. 

I’m reading this book right now — All Marketers are Liars Storytellers — and in the process it is re-affirming the pillars I have implemented across my work over the last few years. 

The problem is that companies like Dole have had the resources to share their version of the story for longer. Bigger budgets, larger audiences, and folks who were willing to listen to a story that so easily had matched their world view: until now. 

The problem is that companies like Dole have, from their generations of exploitative practice, have had the resources to share their version of the story for longer and to a wider audience… aided by bigger pockets, larger audiences, and the existence of a pervasive worldview that unwittingly celebrates a culture we are now (optimistically) moving away from. 

Because I would like to believe that our worldview is shifting. We, as a collective, are understanding that the way we perceive the world around us is no longer true to the perspective we had 10 weeks ago — let alone 10 years. 

So this brings me to pineapples — and why this is important. 

Because if we want our world to keep on changing, we simply have to be better, in some ways, at marketing our stories. 

I want you to remember that every day, you get to have full control not of what happens in the story, but of how you tell it. And that’s what’s important.

What big brands know and what we don’t seem to — yet — is that consumers get to decide the true strength of a story. It’s us who get to decide if we want that story to exist in the world. And it is us who get to make space for other stories when we decide we’re not happy with the ones that are being told. 

And when we know that, that’s when we get to hold the power of both the consumer and the marketer. 

We advocate and tell stories with our dollars. We market the narratives that are important to us. We create and shape culture based on our media now. 

That’s all us. 
That’s you. 
So today, I invite you to question the stories you do know. To push for more. 
To choose not to buy into the stories we’ve been told forever. 
And to choose to make space for yours. 

P.S. I know there are a lot of things about history that are hard and uncomfortable — but I truly believe that until reparations have been made, history cannot be ignored, and our actions for a better future must be informed by the reality of the past.

P.P.S. On an unrelated note: I just wanted to say thank you for all of the love, energy, and prayers sent last week. It is felt, received, and appreciated. My Dad is in his process of healing and recovering. 

P.P.P.S. Ironically, my Dad is allergic to pineapples. He too, does not purchase from Dole and instead uses his dole-ars to buy other things.