It’s that age-old question which has long puzzled philosophers – which came first: the kiwifruit or the kiwi bird?

The answer is, the bird. It’s the Maori word for the cute critter (apparently in imitation of its cry), and has now come to be an informal, even cheeky, slang term for New Zealanders.

In the late 50s and early 60s when New Zealand farmers began exporting the fruit en masse, particularly to the United States, the name kiwifruit began to catch on to help raise its profile in this new market. The name was chosen because the fruit looks like the bird. Without the beak. In time, it came to be more commonly known as the kiwi.

What was it known as before then? It actually had a couple of names, the most common of which was the Chinese gooseberry, because it was native to China, and tasted like a gooseberry.

And while I think kiwifruit is a perfectly fine name, I do lament the loss of Chinese gooseberry somewhat. Never again will we know a fruit with a name that sounds so much like a sordid sexual act.

3 thoughts on “Kiwi

  1. Aww, Kiwis are adorable. Both the birds, and my NZ/ Aotearoa friends. Actually, half my fam is Kiwi ( the people, not the bird, mind. Although, if it was the bird, that would explain a lot), and calling them Kiwi isn’t super cheeky per se; it’s just kinda like calling an Australian ( like myself) an Aussie. Much cheekier are the dumb jokes Aussies like to make about the prevalence of sheep *lovin’* in New Zealand. ( but they can, of course, just retaliate by pointing out what a pack of bogans Aussies are. All the points to NZ.) I like to think myself above cheekiness, but I once gave my lovely Kiwi friend a birthday card decorated with numerous cartoon sheep. Across the top, it said: ” put a tick next to the one which one you find most attractive”. Inside, it said” “So… found one of them attractive?”. Going by the look on his face when i presented it to him, he was really moved, and happy to have me as a friend. We have since lost contact. But memories…
    Anyway, i’m going to start using “Chinese gooseberry” references when i’m trying to flirt with men. I don’t really understand the reference, but I’m pretty sure it will be a winner. Thankyou for this inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

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