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Sunnyvale in Santa Clara County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Labor Day Prunes

 
 
Labor Day Prunes Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, August 17, 2020
1. Labor Day Prunes Marker
Inscription.  Prunes are not picked like other fruit, but shaken out of trees, then picked up off the ground. In the early days, after the prunes were picked up and hauled to a shed, they were dipped in boiling water and lye to crack the skin. This procedure would keep the fruit from swelling. The prunes would be spread onto trays to dry in the sun for a week.

In the Fall of 1918, an unexpected three-day rainfall caught the county's entire prune crop lying out on trays. The odor of fermenting prunes hung in the air long after the ruined crop was collected and destroyed.

EVENTUALLY PRUNES WERE DRIED in dehydrators, then the fruit was graded according to size and quality.

Sunsweet, a cooperative of prune and apricot growers, developed the "tenderized” prune by boiling it to make it soft and more palatable for the consumer. In the 1960s, Sunsweet introduced the pitted prune after one of its employees invented a mechanized prune pitter.

SHORTLY AFTER WORLD WAR II, Paul Mariani, Jr. introduced the first commercially-sold soft prunes unfallen prunes in transparent packages. At first his competitors scoffed at the new- fangled

Labor Day Prunes Marker - wide view image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, August 17, 2020
2. Labor Day Prunes Marker - wide view
packaging. Within five years, however, the transparent packages or “moist-pack” became the dried-fruit industry packaging standard.

Picking prunes was too hard on the knees! Besides it was a frustrating job. You spend all week on your knees picking each prune (and there were thousands of them!) and when you picked the last tree, you had to start all over again because the unfallen prunes had now fallen! Very discouraging!!
Charles Miguelgorry, son of Basque immigrant farmers, 1996
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureIndustry & Commerce.
 
Location. 37° 21.378′ N, 122° 1.496′ W. Marker is in Sunnyvale, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker can be reached from East Remington Drive. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 570 East Remington Drive, Sunnyvale CA 94087, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Prune Heaven (here, next to this marker); Prune Capital of the World (here, next to this marker); Yugoslavian Orchardists of Sunnyvale (here, next to this marker); Heritage Park Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); Vintage Sundial (within shouting distance of this marker); Antique Entry Gate (within shouting distance of this marker);

Marker detail: <i>Prune dehydrator, built, owned and operated by Paul Mariani, Sr.</i> image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of the California History Center at DeAnza College, August 17, 2020
3. Marker detail: Prune dehydrator, built, owned and operated by Paul Mariani, Sr.
Prune Steamer Pot / Hendy Manhole Cover (within shouting distance of this marker); City Hall Bell & City Hall Cornerstone (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sunnyvale.
 
More about this marker. The marker is located outdoors under the roof of the orchard interpretive exhibit that is just to the south of the museum.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 27, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 27, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 51 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 27, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.
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Jan. 25, 2021