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.