Monday, May 12th, 2014

I Just Ate Fruit for the First Time and It Kind of Sucked

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer and editor Joe Veix tells us more about what it was like to have lived 26 years without eating any fruit.

Joe! So what happened here?

It’s true, I’ve never eaten fruit. I’ve had avocados and tomatoes, but I’ve been told those “don’t count.” I’ve also never had juice, though I do drink red wine. That’s technically juice, right? 

To be clear, I’m not just being picky. I’m an open-minded guy and like to try everything once. I just get nauseated about even thinking of eating fruit. I’m not sure why. I used to get sick a lot when I was younger, so my theory is that I probably attempted to eat fruit while ill and my brain associated those two things—like how if you get food poisoning after eating salmon rolls, for two and a half decades of your life you won’t be able to stomach seafood or sail a boat or look at the ocean.

But it hasn’t been too difficult for me. I think part of the reason I’ve gotten so far into my life without having to actually confront this is that it’s been easy to avoid fruit. Our country is very unhealthy, and most fruit comes in candy form. (I should mention, I’ve never had candy fruit.) 

It’s only ever been socially awkward. For example, if someone brings something with fruit in it to a dinner party and they offer it to me, and I refuse to try it, they get really offended. I then have to explain this whole weird thing to people I just met, and then they think I’m fucking with them, and then usually everyone at the party will just start listing different fruits. “What about apples?” “No.” “Oranges?” “No.” “Jujubes?” “No!”

I’ve frequently been offered money in exchange for trying fruit—on one occasion as much as $500. But my dignity is not for sale!

There was also one time a few years ago when I was working as a production assistant for a TV show, and I had to pick up groceries for the office. I didn’t know what a lot of fruits on my list actually looked like—I have no fruit buying experience—and the supermarket didn’t have any identifying signs.

I was too embarrassed to ask anyone for help, so I used my phone to Google image search all of the fruits. I creeped out a few nice elderly ladies who saw me very sternly holding my phone in front of each basket of fruit, one by one. After I couldn’t confirm the difference between lemons and limes, I had to send a photo to my then-girlfriend to get confirmation. It was a close call.

Also, if I go to a birthday party and the cake turns out to have fruit in it, that’s terrible. Because I love cake.

I realize it’s mostly psychosomatic, but the nausea is so bad that I sometimes get grossed out just by the scent of fruit. If someone starts peeling an orange on the subway I’ll have to switch cars, or risk vomiting.

Despite this, it was my New Year’s resolution to try fruit.

Whoa. But as much as it would be interesting to keep the whole "no fruit thing" going forever and perhaps achieve some sort of record, it’s probably not the worst thing in the world that you’ve gotten to a point where you may be ready for some changes. Could you do me a favor and try some grapes, a few mango chunks, a slice of apple, a kiwi, and a peach right now for the first time and let me know what you think?

Sure! I enlisted my friend Jenny as my “fruit ambassador,” because I don’t know how to pick out fruit or how to go about slicing and peeling it. I might accidentally eat a core or a sticker. In the grocery store, Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” started playing while we felt peaches, which I took to be a good omen.

In addition to fruit, I got a bar of dark, spicy chocolate as a palate cleanser and a 22-ounce beer to ease my nerves.


1. Grapes 
(seedless, red)

I started with one that was pea-sized. It had a plastic texture, like the smooth side of a Lego. I chewed and swallowed it without a problem, so I tried a bigger one. When I bit down it exploded in my mouth, which surprised me so much that I yelled “ew.” Eating it felt like chewing on grass that was wrapped around chilled mucus.


2. Champagne Mango

My friend showed me her elaborate grid cutting system for mangos, while explaining that her mother used to say that “mangos are the apples of the Philippines.” The analogy was lost on me. I excitedly took a bite, and violently gagged. I somehow managed to choke it down. It tasted like stomach acid. I don’t remember anything else about it. It’s possible I blacked out. The whole thing was basically a core, too, like how a potato chip bag is mostly air. What a huge rip-off. Fuck mangos, man.


3. Apple (Fuji)

I ate a slice, and it didn’t taste like much—like damp cardboard. Bland and crunchy. The juice kind of grossed me out, but I didn’t mind the taste and texture overall. I could see myself enjoying it on a salad, or maybe in a pie. Feeling empowered, I bit straight into that sucker, which felt oddly satisfying.


4. Kiwi

This is my friend’s “top five favorite fruit.” Based on how it looked, and still reeling from my mango failure, I was very nervous. The piece that she cut for me had the look and texture of green sashimi, with seeds that looked like specks of dirt. But I actually enjoyed my first bite. I ate two more pieces, and really liked them too. I kept smiling about it, and my friend pointed out that I had seeds in my teeth, but I didn’t even care, I was so happy about kiwis.


5. Peach

I was skeptical about peaches (re: mango PTSD). The slice tasted similar to the apple, though the skin was pleasantly bitter. Like the kiwi, I was able to eat it without any issues. I asked my friend to demonstrate how she would “casually” eat a peach, like a normal person on the bus, and then I copied her—chewing like I imagined James Dean would—and we talked about politics.

Lesson Learned, if any?

Fruit is actually pretty good! (Except for mangos.) I know it’s a cliche, but you really have to overcome your fears and try new things, even if those things make you vomit, because life is short, and probably even shorter if you don’t eat fruit.

Just one more thing.

I’m very excited and optimistic about my new lifestyle. I’ve opened up an entire chamber of the food pyramid! I can now drink all sorts of fancy cocktails and smoothies! I could get a new wardrobe! The whole world is brimming with delicious, juicy possibilities.

Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York. Illustrations by Hallie Bateman.

22 Comments / Post A Comment

laurel (#4,035)

This is the craziest thing I've ever read and Joe is either a troll or an alien.

bureaucrab (#247,615)

I feel this whole story. Not about fruit specifically, but I have my own version of hating certain things everybody else finds good (LOOKING AT YOU SOY SAUCE, YOU DISGUSTING FLAVOR TROLL). People really get rude and confrontational about it, which I have never understood since it doesn't affect them in any way. I DON'T KNOW WHY, OK, IT JUST IS. LEAVE ME ALONE.

It's made me very tolerant of other people's food quirks. You don't like something I like? More for me! We hate the same thing? Solidarity!

You guys are just out to confuse me now, aren't you. Did it suck, or was it pretty good?

Matt Buchanan (#232,205)

@Clarence Rosario Well, if you actually read the story, while he concludes "it was pretty good"—to sound diplomatic, I think—he actually had a shitty experience with four of out of the five fruits. So "it kind of sucked" is appropriate.

@Matt Buchanan Well, yeah: I actually read the whole thing, and that's why I was confused. The headline of suckage wasn't supported by the conclusion of pretty goodness. I counted three relatively positive experiences out of the five.

Mr. B (#10,093)


It could happen here.

shinyrock (#273,539)

I'm actually allergic to all raw fruit and vegetables, so I can relate to your story! (and like you, I ate pretty poorly growing up because I was such a picky eater.) I remember one of the first times I started baking/cooking, I'd go to the grocery store and had no idea what some of the fruit looked like, or how to pick a ripe one. The other day I was making my boyfriend banana pancakes, and I had no idea how to peel a banana–I hadn't tried to eat one in over 15 years! I'm very excited for your adventure into fruit, I wish my allergies allowed me to make healthier choices.

grendan (#269,504)

fuck of troll

Tony Starks (#273,615)

@grendan Damn!! That would have been the greatest burn in the history of the internet, unfortunately you spelled 1 of 3 words wrong, rendering it meaningless. Don't you hate it when you have one thing to say and you completely mess it up? I'd go practice writing out that killer burn you've crafted (you genius) on some bathroom stalls, hone those skills, get your confidence back, then hit up the computers in the public library and put those trolls in their place!

Well, of course you're going to have a bad experience eating fruit when your teeth and gums are all scurvy-fied.

KarenUhOh (#19)

If there's a God every food in the world will disappear for this goofball except orange Jell-O and Flintstones Vitamins.

I find this funny- I hate fruit and have never eaten much of it but I've always been aware which fruits are which! But I feel him quite hard on the fruit hidden in cakes, it is the saddest. For me it's not the flavor, it's the texture so I will drink most juices and flavored things but if there is pulp or needs, forget about it. Apples I can definitely do in a salad or with cheese or in a baked good, I have tolerated raspberries and kiwis but that's about it. I have never eaten a banana and I never will! That's my flavor texture nightmare.

I also did not eat fruit until I was 25 but now I love all the vegetables (mostly, except for bell peppers) so I've always said that maybe it will take another 25 years for me to like fruit…so I might be a fruit eatin' 50 year old but 30 year old me is not interested at all.

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

Fruit is sticky, messy, and mostly overrated (how many of them are over 50% pit?) Eat your veggies and you'll be fine.

Robert Berry (#273,565)

How can no one else be thinking this? This guy wouldn't eat fruit for $500? Call me a cheap whore, but I'd get real fruity for $500. You know what else kind of sucks? People who won't eat fruit for $500. It makes me kind of hate you.

BSDetector (#273,566)

This seriously has to be some kind of troll. Anyone who can get through 26 years of life without having basic knowledge of how to identify popular fruits, shouldn't be allowed on the Internet. I don't care if you claim to never having eaten one or can't even stand the sight or smell of them. If it was just more exotic fruits like kumquats, jackfruit, or passion fruit, then maybe I'd be more forgiving in the ability to pick them out in a lineup. But to not be able to identify an apple, orange, banana without the help of a cellphone and google? How the frak do you make it through the day? Gawd, for your sake I hope I'm being trolled. :p

14256164@twitter (#273,572)

I wonder how this feels about eating a durian… LOL!!!! :-)

What produce section has no signage of any kind though?

So this jagoff is tellin me that his phobia of fruit is so great that a higher power has guided him since early childhood to avoid all things fruit (even pictures of fruit or common knowledge of what basic fruits look like)? This is the dumbest thing ever or the worst type of comedy. You are an asshole, dude.

Tony Starks (#273,615)

@Collin Colsher@facebook @Collin Colsher@facebook Hi Collin, you from Pittsburg? About that, we're not doing the jagoff thing anymore, so. . . Well, I wanted to reply since it seemed you were having some problems understanding the article. I can help out. Your mention of "a higher power" is both puzzling and alarming. Unfortunately, it seems to be the main point of your comment. Nowhere within the above text, or subtext for that matter, even remotely touches upon the idea of a "higher power". That is unless you are referring to his conditioned taste aversion, a real physiological and adaptive neurological phenomenon, as a higher power. That would be weird (and incorrect) if that's what you meant. Worse, you somehow came to the conclusion that this first time fruit eater is an asshole. I would have thought the nice colored pencil drawings would have helped you through some of the more difficult parts of the article. Oh well. Keep practicing!! Go Steelers!!

ILS (#262,821)

I believe him: as a kid I was terrified of mushrooms for reasons. Never ate one until the week I graduated from college. I still have issues with portobello. Food phobias suck.

Edited to add: on a timeline this means I ate tarantula before I ate mushrooms.

Carotater (#273,691)

OMG I thought I was the only one. I have a fruit thing, too! I don't eat it and everyone thinks I'm joking when I first tell them. I don't get nauseous, though, just really anxious. Although I did throw up once when my parents tried to make me eat applesauce. I have no idea why I feel this way. I've been to nutritionists, psychiatrists… No luck. I'm 27 years old and the closest I'll come is I like lemonade and very recently wine, and I'll eat non-chunky tomato sauce, like on pizza or spaghetti. Touching fruit or smelling it or watching others eat it makes me physically uncomfortable. I am a little better now, since I have to cut and serve fruit for my 2 year old daughter. I still have to wash my hands afterwards. And I won't directly touch squishy fruits. Ugh. I just got a chill thinking about it. Anyway, you're far braver than me. I don't think I could eat it.

I believe his insight into mangoes is the ultimate evidence that he's telling the truth.

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