The pineapple has served as a symbol of hospitality and welcome since early colonial days.
Christopher Columbus was introduced to the pineapple when he and his men landed on the Caribbean island of Guadaloupe. The pineapple was a staple part of native feasts and celebrations.
In the American colonies a hostess would display a fresh pineapple in the center of the dining table when special visitors were being entertained. Hospitality was an important part of colonial life and was taken very seriously. The pineapple expressed the warmest welcome a hostess could extend to her guests. The pineapple was served as dessert after the meal if the family was financially well off. If the family could not afford a pineapple a grocer would often rent them one for a small fee and then, when it was returned, sell it to a more affluent customer. Even though not permitted to eat the pineapple, visitors did appreciate the consideration extended by their host or hostess.
It is from this symbolism of hospitality and wealth that the pineapple came to be an important decorative element in Colonial homes.