Hass avocados. (Adriana Ornelas Bernal/Wikimedia Commons)
Rudolph Hass’s Successful Failure
In 1926, Rudolph Hass was working as a postman in La Habra Heights, California, but his true passion was botany. He had attempted some experiments with avocados, but when they didn’t pan out, he simply left the trees to grow wild in his yard. They’re quite pretty, after all. Later, his children were playing in the yard when they noticed that the trees had grown fruit after all, but it was unusual. These fruits were smaller, darker, and had knobby skin, but they were delicious.
Upon closer examination, these avocados offered even more advantages over the Fuerte variety than just taste. Their thicker, rougher skin meant that the fruit had a much longer shelf life and could be transported with minimal bruising. The trees were hardy, and after two or three years, they yielded a startling amount of fruit. They also had a longer harvest season than those available at the time. Interestingly, some avocado farmers worried that the fruit’s rough black skin might be a turnoff to consumers, but not only were they wrong, Hass avocados actually proved more attractive because their dark skins hid blemishes.