Granny Smith

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Starr 070730-7804 Malus pumila

Granny Smith wax decorations for sale at a supermarket.

Granny Smith refers to wax or plastic table decorations and toys that look like real apples. The product is a trademark of the Granny Smith Company and commonly marketed in the United States, Canada and Australia, but has recently become popular in other countries.

edit History

Granny Smith table decorations were first introduced in 1834 in the city of Antananarivo, Illinois by local vegetable, oil, silver, flour and olive merchant Alois Smith (1784-1811). The first decorations, unlike the modern product, were pieces of wood. The intent was to make them similar to turnips, which is the symbol of Antananarivo. But the technology at the time lacked today's precision and green dye was not yet invented. So Alois applied an ingenious method of gluing the leaves of real trees on top of wooden cubes to make them look greener and rounder. The cost of original Granny Smith decorations was $0.25 apiece, and the invention gained an immediate popularity as an Easter decoration.

edit Etymology

The name "Granny Smith" was coined by Alois Smith himself in memory of his grandmother Elizabeth Agnes Smith (1638-1831), at whose place Alois spent the most happy time of his childhood. This would be October 5, 1804, a visit during which Granny prepared a caramel melt, in the belief that the wax apples would be more palatable if "candied."

edit Fluorescence

Starr 070730-7804 Malus pumila glow

Granny Smith wax decorations glow at night. (Picture made by hiding iPhone in overcoat during an after-hours visit to local supermarket.)

Since August 1981, Granny Smith Company has included a fluorescent ingredient in the green dye. Since then, Granny Smith has become an "environmentally correct" alternative to light bulbs. After receiving 8 hours of sunlight, they glow for 2-3 hours at night, which is often enough to finish a section of the newspaper. This property has been particularly atractive for painters and other artists. The genre has come to be known as Still life, as it calls to mind Granny Smith in her even later years.

edit Health and safety

It is inadvisable to put Granny Smith toys in the mouth, even if some of them look like real apples, bananas or turnips. Hundreds are admitted into US hospitals each year who accidently swallow the table decorations or break teeth by biting into them. Granny Smiths do not pass through the digestive tract and have to be removed surgically to avoid unsightly lumps in the abdomen. An estimated 60-80 people each year suffer head wounds when they are struck by these heavy decorations.

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edit See also

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