The Hass Avocado: Holy Guacamole
Updated: Aug 4
Hass Avocados are on sale this entire week 3 for $5. Why is that great news? Have you ever ordered Avocado Toast? We know prices vary at different times of the year. At Morton Williams, we try our best to offer you the very best prices and of course the finest and freshest Avocados in NYC. So where did this Avocado craze begin?
In 1926, California postman Rudolph Hass brought some avocado seedlings home to grow on his La Habra Heights property. After the seeds he had planted grew into immature trees, Hass used cuttings from his Fuerte trees to perform a grafting of the newly planted avocado trees with the very popular Fuerte avocado.
Grafting is a horticultural process often used on fruit trees to ensure that the desired variety of fruit continues to grow on the new tree. In this case, Hass was trying to grow Fuerte avocados (which at the time were considered to be one of the superior varieties) from the avocado seeds of unknown origin.
For two years in a row, one tree rejected the graft. Rudolf Hass was ready to give up and chop the tree down but he was persuaded to let it grow, just to see what would happen.
It was the Hass children, according to the story, who discovered that the tree had produced a fruit that they liked far better than the others: one with a rich, nutty, slightly oily taste. Hass Sr. apparently concurred. “As I've heard the story, the kids brought the fruit in to him and he said, 'wow this isn't bad,'” Arpaia relates.
At the time, the reigning avocado variety was the ("strong" in Spanish), which featured smooth, thin skin and a green hue. By contrast, Hass’ experiment had a relatively unappetizing appearance, with thick, pebbly black skin. In fact, early name ideas included the Alligator Pear but that didn’t test so well. Hass decided that it was what’s inside that counted—a decision that would change the course of avocado history.
It turned out that the Hass had some other big advantages over the Fuerte. The trees grow vigorously, are easy to propagate and produce an impressive amount of fruit by only the second or third year. They have a longer harvest season than other avocados and, perhaps most importantly, the Hass's thicker skin makes it superior to Fuertes, Pinkertons, Zutanos and other once-popular varieties when it comes to handling fruit and shipping it long distances.
Hass patented the that bears his name in 1935, and partnered with Whittier grower Harold H. Brokaw to promote the variety. Unfortunately, patenting a variety of fruit tree was nearly unheard of in his day, and therefore not very effective. Prospective growers would simply purchase a Hass variety and grafted it with other trees.
So while his name and fame spread widely with the tree, Hass and his family didn't really cash in on the craze that began in their backyard, son Charles Hass once explained to The Los Angeles Times. "For coming up with the greatest avocado in the world, my father's royalties totaled 4,800 bucks over the life of the patent," the younger Hass told the newspaper.
Hass Sr. passed away in 1952, but his creation far outlived him. The roots of this humble collaboration eventually populated the globe with millions of avocado trees, all genetically descended from that single mother tree that lived on at the old Hass place until it eventually died in 2002 at 76 years old.
So, when you see Hass Avocados all across the world, and especially here at Morton Williams, now you have some rich history to go along with one of the most unique foods consumed all across the globe.