We're taking a moment to mourn someone you may not have heard of, but we're changing the way many of us eat. Frieda Caplan, who died on Saturday at the age of 96, introduced a number of exotic fruits and vegetables. Rita Braver spoke to her last fall:
Many people call Frieda Caplan the "kiwi queen". "It's a good name!" She said.
And it all started because Caplan accepted a proposal to change the name of a fruit that was grown in New Zealand, but was called Chinese Gooseberry. "Why don't you call them kiwi? Because kiwis are New Zealand's national bird and they looked like a kiwi bird," she said.
Great idea, Caplan thought and started marketing kiwis.
It was 1962, the same year that Frieda Caplan was the first woman in the United States to open a wholesale company called Frieda & # 39; s. Your focus? Special products that convince supermarkets to sell unusual things like shallots and ginger.
Correspondent Rita Braver asked, "What was your pitch? What would you tell them?"
"That could bring money!" Caplan replied.
Over the years, she has introduced or promoted over 200 items, and it still counts – foods that we take for granted today, such as Meyer lemons, Habanero peppers, and jicama, and foreign items such as African horn melon, Buddha's hand, and yellow dragon fruit.
Today Caplan's granddaughter Alex Berkley is sales manager at Frieda & # 39; s. She showed Braver some of her products, like finger limes, which, when cut in half, release little "bubbles". "So when you push it, it looks like little caviar," she said.
And their purple sweet potatoes make a devil.
In fact, Alex is the third generation of women in the family to work in the company. Her mother Karen Caplan is now President of Frieda. And Frieda's younger daughter Jackie Caplan Wiggins is vice president. She showed Braver something Bhut Jolokia, also called Ghost Peppers. "You are one of the hottest chili peppers in the world," she said.
The company generates nearly $ 100 million annually from an extensive location in Los Alamitos, California.
At the age of 96, Frieda Caplan went to the office every day until she had to walk on the street with a broken leg last year.
What Caplan hoped for from her legacy, Braver asked her, "What should people say about you after you leave?"
"& # 39; I feel healthy about Frieda & # 39;", she replied.
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The story was produced by Dustin Stephens.