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The Sweetest Story: The History of the Texas Grapefruit


Just like everything else in Texas, the history of the Texas grapefruit is bigger and better than other fruits. And just like that unique Texas accent, Winter Sweetz™ Grapefruit is instantly recognizable.

Originally known as “the forbidden fruit,” grapefruit made its way to the United States in the early 1800’s via Spanish and French settlers who brought seeds to Florida. Luckily for grapefruits, they found their way down to Deep South Texas, most likely by Spanish missionaries.

A Sour Start

The first reported planting of a grapefruit grove in Texas dates back to 1893. During this time, grapefruits were still of the white variety (sour for those not in the grapefruit know-how). Local Rio Grande Valley pioneer, John H. Shary, saw such tremendous potential in this special citrus fruit that he decided to purchase 16,000 acres of brush land in citrus-growing-perfect Mission in 1914. With a determination to sell Rio Grande Valley citrus nationally, Shary, or the “Father of the Citrus Industry”, began to experiment with new irrigation techniques to ensure his fields would wield the highest quality grapefruit.

And so the sour start of grapefruits in South Texas began.

A Sweet Discovery

See, back in the 1920’s, the Rio Grande Valley was actually known as onion country. So much so, that when the first grapefruit shipment left the region, they were placed in leftover wooden onion crates. And up until 1929 every grapefruit still had white flesh.

It was just at about the same time as the 1929 great stock market crash that a strange new grapefruit was found growing on a tree in a white grapefruit orchard in McAllen. This oddity stuck out like a sore thumb because of its peculiar red blush. Even more interesting, when it was cut open, the flesh of this new grapefruit was red.

This red grapefruit mutation was to become the first patented produce item, and all throughout the early 1930’s redder mutations were found in various groves, with each new finding being named after the grower who found it.

And thus began the Texas Red Grapefruit Industry.

A Ruby Red Future

As the demand for these new grapefruits grew, so did the number of red grapefruit varieties. With an overabundance of different names being shipped commercially, it soon became a marketing issue to keep track of all the different brands.

The solution? Marketing all these different varieties under one name—the “Ruby” Red Grapefruit.

Because of major freezes in 1949, 1951, and 1962, Texas eliminated its white and pink grapefruit varieties, and settled on growing the reputation of the ruby red grapefruit.

During the 1970’s several more important mutations created even redder fruit.

The Rio Star is Born

Two major freezes in the 1980’s essentially stopped Texas grapefruit production for eight years. But that didn’t stop Dr. Richard Hensz of the Texas A&I Citrus Center from continuing to experiment on creating the reddest grapefruit possible. He accomplished his goal by using ionizing radiation to cause mutations that would bring about the Rio Red variety in 1984.

Today, the Ruby Red grapefruit is one of sweetest and reddest grapefruits you’ll find anywhere. And it all began more than a century ago. Since then, the Texas grapefruit has been shipped to all part of the USA, and even up to Canada.

And the Newest Kid on the Block…Winter Sweetz

Winter Sweetz™ is the newest, reddest, tastiest ruby red grapefruit out on the market today. It’s grown in the sub-tropical climate of Mission, in the most fertile soil, where sunny weather and tons of care help to ensure the best quality possible.

And while you’ll likely encounter a ton of different types of Texas grapefruit in super markets around the country, Winter Sweetz™ is guaranteed to be one of a kind. So check out our hintz on how to enjoy the sweetest and juiciest grapefruit available today.

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