Getting the pineapple to Europe was exceedingly difficult; a shipment would often be rotten by the time it landed. Pineapple chunks would be candied and packed in sugar, while whole pineapples needed the best ships sailing in the best weather to arrive safely. For 200 years, gardeners tried to figure out a way to grow the pineapple at home. A Dutch merchant named Pieter de la Court was finally able to cultivate a crop in a humid hotroom. Growing pineapples was a dangerous business, however, and gardeners frequently burned down their hotroom or killed the plants with too much smoke.
Since its arrival in Europe, the pineapple almost instantly became a symbol of wealth and privilege. In the 1600’s, King Charles II commissioned a portrait in which he received a pineapple. Architects and artists carved pineapples into gates and on walls. They were sewn unto napkins and tablecloths. Centuries later, in New Jersey, the weather vanes on public buildings had copper and brass pineapples. Since pineapples were so rare, a party with a pineapple was a big event, and showed that the host or hostess really cared about their guests. The pineapple became a symbol of hospitality, and even to this day, giving a pineapple as a hostess gift is not uncommon.