Originally published June 28, 1984
From time to time admirers of the marigold have tried to interest legislators in naming that colorful bloom America’s national flower, and the maple, because of it’s beneficial sap, has been put forth as the worthiest candidate for a national tree. But none, so far as I know, has ever lobbied on behalf of a national berry. This is the time of the year which is the best season for the gathering and nomination of the ripe strawberry as the favorite American berry.
As a start we might consider several aspects of the strawberry’s pedigree when we proceed to nominate it for this honor. When the Colonists arrived in the New World they found strawberries of unsurpassed fragrance and sweetness in unbelievable abundance. “We can not set down foote but tred on strawberrie” reported an Englishman from the wild strawberry fields of Maryland. Wild strawberry carpets, though rare, still occur in a few out of the way places and still cause delighted amazement. Today, strawberries are grown in almost every state of the Union and it is truly the national berry.
Most of all, its contribution to classic American dishes makes the strawberry a sentimental favorite. What could be more authentically American than strawberry shortcake made with hot buttered biscuits (never sponge cake) slathered with crushed and sugared berries and drifts of whipped cream? Or hand-churned strawberry ice cream made the American way - just cream, sugar and the ripest, juiciest berries one can find?