Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apple #417: Victor Newman

I'm back from my trip and I have SO many things to investigate, but first I must discuss this most important and earth-shattering event, which is the fact that Victor Newman almost left The Young and the Restless.

How Victor Newman appears during the opening credits of the show.
(Photo from Conversations with Marva)

For those of you who don't watch soap operas, first of all, I am sorry for you. But more to the point, Victor Newman is one of THE characters in daytime drama. Where Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci) on All My Children is the female diva of daytime, Victor Newman is the male lion of the pride.

Victor Newman is a billionaire CEO of a company he created, Newman Enterprises, which of course sells cosmetics. He is a manipulative son-of-a-bitch but he is also a consummate romancer. He has been married to six different women, twice to Ashley and three times to Nikki, his one true love. He uses his billions to buy the women he loves jewels, horses, and chalets in France. He also uses his billions to influence judges, bring in the best surgeons, and completely reconstruct the face of a crazy woman whom he set on his arch rival, Jack Abbott.

Jack and Victor's feud is a consuming, never-ending passion for both of them, and yet at times they also regard each other with something like affection. Jack often refers to Victor as "The Mustache."

This is a montage of things that Jack Abbott and Victor Newman have said to each other over the years. It's echoey because Jack is remembering all this. It's also a bit loud. When Victor smashes his self-portrait, what he shouts is, "I will crush you!"

See? Where else would you encounter such a figure so ripe for drama and pure TV pleasure?

But wait, there's more. Victor was an orphan as a child, so sometimes when he's feeling angsty, he pushes everyone away, shouting things like, "I grew up on my own, I did all this by myself, and I certainly don't need you!" and storming out of the room. Every once in a while he also disappears from Genoa City, like the time he needed to avenge the death of one of his wives, Sabrina. Incognito in a black baseball cap and sunglasses, he boarded a bus to Mexico in search of her mafia killer. No one heard from him for weeks and it was up to his grown children, Nicholas and Victoria, to reassure the shareholders that his company was on sound footing in spite of Victor's unexplained absence. They often have to soothe those jumpy shareholders.

He's been arrested and tried twice for murder -- but he was innocent, of course, most recently framed by his dastardly son Adam -- put in a psychiatric hospital, and shot. He's had epilepsy, amnesia, and he's undergone a heart transplant. Yet through it all he remains his autocratic, manipulative, troublemaking, romancing, tough-guy self.

(Photo from Daytime Dial)

He's been on the show since 1980. After twenty-nine years, so many storylines and characters revolve around him, if you were to remove Victor Newman from the show, you'd have a great big vacuum right in the middle of it.

But according to the news as of last week before I left for my trip, that's exactly what was happening.

To know what's going on with Victor Newman, it helps to know a little bit about the man behind the character, Eric Braeden.

  • Nearly every soap opera has a character with an accent, but in this case, Victor's is real because Eric Braeden is originally from Germany.
  • Like Victor, whose name was changed from Christian Miller, Eric Braeden was born with a different name: Hans Gudegast.

Hans Gudegast, decades before Eric Braeden or Victor Newman existed.
(Photo from Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict)

  • He was very athletic, excelling in track and field as he grew up. In the US, where he emigrated while still a teenager, he worked tough jobs, as a cowhand and in a lumber mill.
  • Though he went to college on a track & field scholarship, he got interested in film and made a documentary with a friend about boating all the way up the Salmon River, which had not been done before.
  • He landed his first major acting role in 1966 as a German officer named Captain Hans Dietrich on The Rat Patrol.
  • He appeared in several other supporting roles, and then after he got the lead role in Colossus in 1970, Universal Studios suggested he change his name. Gudegast and the studio argued over that until, reluctantly, he agreed. He's been Eric Braeden ever since.
  • When he was offered the part of Victor Newman in 1980, he was reluctant to take that on, too. But he's also been Victor Newman ever since he agreed to that.

Victor Newman in his earliest days on The Young & the Restless.
(Photo from Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict)

  • He's been nominated for an Emmy award five times, and he won once in 1998.

Eric Braeden holding his Emmy for Best Leading Actor in a Daytime Drama.
(Photo from Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict)

  • Unlike Victor, Braeden has stayed married to one woman. He married his college girlfriend, Dale Russell, in 1966. They have one son, Christian Gudegans.

So this is the guy who's been playing Victor Newman all these years. In a lot of ways, the two people have a lot in common: tough, loyal, athletic, vigorous, and for a long time now, used to being at the top. This is the guy the studio is trying to say needs to take a pay cut.

Even seems to confuse the actor and the character. They have this photo of Victor Newman, who lives in Genoa City, Wisconsin, tagged as a photo of Eric Braeden.
(Photo from

  • Most soap opera actors, once they're entrenched in a role, can't really ever play anybody else because the audience always sees that actor as that soap opera character.
  • Nikki Newman, for example (played by Melody Thomas Scott), recently went through a contract dispute of her own. After the studio asked her to take a pay cut, she threatened to leave the show, and her character disappeared from the storyline for a while.
  • But I didn't believe she'd ever really go. She's played Nikki Newman so long, I didn't see how she would go on to anything else.

Victor and Nikki from their first wedding
(Photo from The Young and the Restless Wiki)

Victor and Nikki from wedding number 3, I think.
(Photo from MSNBC)

  • But in Braeden's case, he's 68. He's probably earned enough money to retire very comfortably, and if he really didn't want to come back, he probably wouldn't have to.
  • From his account of how the negotiations went, it sounded like he was well past negotiating with Sony anymore, and that the whole thing might be done.
  • Here's how it went down. All the actors in the union of which Eric Braeden is a member have a clause in their contracts that says the studio can revisit the contract every 26 weeks if they so choose. Even though the contracts typically go for 3 years, the studio can change the terms of the contract every 26 weeks.
  • Braeden said CBS/Sony had never pulled the 26-week thing on him before, but they did this time. Economic times are tight, and soap operas in general have been losing viewers and money, and they asked him to take a pay cut.
  • I don't know exactly how they "asked" him to do that but apparently it wasn't in the most respectful of terms because here is how Braeden reacted:

"You expect to be talked to in a sensitive way, not suddenly hit over the head by invoking a clause that was never invoked before and to say 'What the f*** happened?' "

"There is no appreciation of the fact that I've been an important part of the show for 27 years that has been No. 1 in the ratings. That's extraordinary. So to be dealt with in a perfunctory matter as if you had just known these people for a few months is what is most offensive."

"I have shown flexibility, they have shown none. It is over. I pulled the plug. I will not negotiate with people who remain aloof and arrogant about the whole thing. Not after 30 years, I won't do that."

"If I signed a three-year f***ing deal, you honor it!"

I imagine, when Eric Braeden said these things, he might have looked something like this.
(Photo from SoapNet)

  • This was on top of a pay cut he already took two years ago. They interrupted that 3-year contract at its 2-year mark and said they needed to cut his pay still further. He got very angry and stormed out of the negotiations.
  • So the writers wrote him out of the show. The word was that he taped his last episode on September 23, due to air on November 2. Other actors said that, on his last day, he was very professional, thanked everyone for working with him, and left the studio calmly.
  • The story the writers came up with was that Victor was sent to rehab, presumably for his heart transplant, somewhere out of town. This plan allowed for the remote chance that Braeden might come back and his character could come back home. If his departure was to become permanent, they would kill the character.
  • But then fans from all over the place protested. Here are comments that people posted to all sorts of news articles about the contract dispute and Victor's departure:

Erica said: I love Victor Newman more than life itself, yes call me nuts but I do. Hes my soap opera husband and has been for years. I know this is a sick joke, or at least it better be. I will never watch again if Victor leaves.

jacqueline said: There is no Young and the restless without Victor Newman. That's my husband all day everyday. Loveyou Victor.

Suzyq said:
CBS needs to leave this man alone! The show will flop without him. I've watched the show for 82 year old dad even watches this show to see Victor Newman. He needs to stay! He is the show.

Jane said:
Whoever is negotiating from Sony is an idiot and knows nothing about the show and why it's number one. I've been watching Y & R since the first year it was on the air. Without Victor Newman. viewership will plummet and fall off a cliff. I know I certainly won't be watching. They might as well just cancel the whole show.

c ryan said:
If CBS lets Eric Braeden leave the show I will no longer watch it. My mother and all of our friends have been watching him on the show for over 30 years. We think the show will not be as good if Victor Newman leaves. Please don't let Eric Braeden leave.

TimT said: I’ve watched the show for as long as I can remember. The character Victor, is pretty much the reason for this. He goes, I go too I guess. RIP Y&R!

murphy said: I’ll be stunned if Victor leaves. He’s the man I love to hate.

Chris said:
As Victor would say, "This show go on without me??!! The Hell you say! Never! Never I tell you!"

A T-shirt for die-hard Victor Newman fans, available in several colors, long sleeve or short sleeve, for about $25 from Zazzle

Now that I'm back from vacation, of course I had to check on this state of affairs and see if there have been any new developments. And yes, Entertainment Weekly has reported that Braeden and Sony have settled on a new contract.

"What actually changed my mind, to be honest with you . . . was the reaction of the fans, of the audience, [which] was so overwhelmingly supportive. . . . That helped me change my mind."

"It is like a divorce, after 30 years, after having been enormously loyal to that show and having deep feelings about it, to then suddenly be confronted with the reality of maybe having to leave it is tough."

He signed a three-year contract. He took a "substantial" pay cut -- though he still reportedly will make seven figures -- and it still has that troublesome 26-week clause in it so the studio could step in again before the three years are up. But for now, both parties seem satisfied.

(Photo from Auntie Fashion)

Now all that's left is for the writers to write Victor Newman back into the show. Entertainment Tonight in an interview with Eric Braeden asked this:

ET: What do you look forward to for Victor in the future?

Eric Braeden: To come back and take revenge!

ET: He is so good at that.

Eric Braeden: He is very good at that.

The Young and the Restless airs weekdays at 12:30 pm on CBS and also at midnight on SoapNet.

UPDATE: Victor Newman has returned to the show as of Friday, January 15th's episode, and he's pissed off.  Welcome back, Victor!

Hal Boedeker, 'The Young and the Restless': Can it go on without Victor Newman? Orlando Sentinel blog
Michael Starr, "'Restless' Braeden quits CBS soap,"
The New York Post, October 9, 2009
Lynette Rice, "Braeden on Y&R exit: 'It's outrageous,'" , October 8, 2009
"Actor Braeden says no more 'Restless,'" UPI, October 17, 2009
IMDB, Biography for Eric Braeden
Shelley Fralic, "Daytime TV's best villain, Y&R's Victor Newman, barely survives to terrorize another day,"
Vancouver Sun, October 29, 2009
Y&R's Eric Braeden on Good Day LA (in this video, he talks about the contract negotiations, and also about politics!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween entries

Hello, faithful Daily Apple readers. I'm about to leave on vacation for about a week, this time to sunny FLA. In the meantime, you may want to peruse any of the many Halloween-related entries I've already done. They're spook-tacular!


Those Halloween Stores




Lunacy and the Full Moon

Oh, boy, does this photo crack me up. Especially since the dog in the front has a little Adolf Hitler mustache, just as my parents' English setter, Moose, did. Moose, unfortunately, has gone to dog-heaven. Hey, could this be his dog-ghost?
(The blog isn't clear but I think one of these dogs is named Oreo, and that they belong to Father Loren Gonzales in Arizona. Photo from Overheard in the Sacristy)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apple #416: How Hair Conditioners Work

I meant to choose a brief topic after that long entry about purple foods. But I was curious about how hair conditioners work, and I started reading about it, and of course since it's a question about chemistry and about how something works, the answer was not simple. But I'll try to break it down for you.

Lots & lots of hair products. But how do they work?
(Photo from Bongga Ba?!)

Here's the short version, about how hair conditioners work:

Hair conditioners basically put positive charges back into your hair so it doesn't get all staticky and fly-away and dried out.

If you want the nuts & bolts of how that happens, please read on.

Hair and the cuticle
  • First it's important to understand what's going on at the level of a strand of hair. Each piece of hair is made primarily of three layers:
  • The very center of the hair is the medulla.
  • The bulk of stuff surrounding that is the cortex. This is where the color lives and where moisture gets absorbed and retained.
  • The outer layer is the cuticle. It's kind of a sheath of scales that protects the cortex.

Diagram from Bigen

  • You definitely want those scales to lie flat. They help the moisture stay in the cortex, and if you've colored your hair, they help the dye to stay in the cortex. In general, they help protect the cortex from damage.

  • But when hair gets damaged -- from too much blow-drying, from too much coloring, or bleaching, or is broken by rough hair implements, etc. -- the scales on the cuticle stand up and leave the cortex exposed.

Damaged hair on the left, with cuticles standing up and exposing the cortex to breakage, and undamaged hair at the far right, with cuticles so smooth you wouldn't even know they're there.
(Photo from Hana Professional)

  • It doesn't take much to disrupt those cuticle scales. In fact, stripping away an electron or two from the cuticles -- in effect, changing their electrical charge from positive to negative -- can get them standing up.
Rubbing a balloon on your head strips electrons from the hair and transfers them to the balloon.
(Photo from Boing Boing)

  • Remember that trick from science class, when you rubbed a balloon on your head and made your hair stand up? When you did that, you were removing electrons from not just your hair, but from the cuticle. So while your hair was standing up, at the microscopic level, your cuticle scales were standing up, too.
  • That's not that big a deal because soon enough your hair finds the extra electrons it needs and settles down again.
  • But when you wash your hair, the soap in the shampoo is removing electrons. This is a bit more drastic than the balloon trick because the soap gets worked through all your hair, along the entire length of it.
  • Basically, what hair conditioners do is replace some of the positive charges that the soap in the shampoo has stripped away.
  • If you want to know how that happens, then it's time to start talking about the pH scale.

Positives and negatives on the pH scale
  • Maybe you remember those shampoo commercials -- I can't remember now for what brand. Was it Wella Balsam? -- where some lovely model assured us that this particular shampoo was pH balanced for healthy hair. What that means, essentially, is the shampoo is formulated to try to keep more positive charges in your hair even though you've put soap on it.

Farrah in a Wella Balsam ad. The copy doesn't say anything about pH balance so maybe it was another brand where they used to say that in the commercials. Anybody remember that?
(Photo from Angelic Ads of Farrah Fawcett)

  • The pH scale is a way of representing how much hydrogen is present in a solution. (pH means "potenz Hydrogen" or the potential for hydrogen)
  • The reason we care about this in the context of hair conditioners is that hydrogen ions carry a positive charge. The more hydrogen ions, the more positive charges there will be in the solution.
  • (Note to you chemistry purists out there, yes, I'm totally oversimplifying this.)
  • The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 in the middle. I think it would be much easier to understand if it went from -7 to +7 with zero in the middle, but then nobody asked me.
  • 7 is the magic number that corresponds to water. Water is considered neutral.
  • This is sort of counter-intuitive too, but anything with a pH lower than 7 has more hydrogen ions and therefore more positive charges. Anything higher than 7 has fractional amounts of hydrogen ions and more negative charges.
  • The way the pH scale is usually expressed is not in terms of positive and negative charges but as acids and bases.

pH scale with some typical examples of things at each point in the scale.
(Diagram by the Apple Lady)

Shampoos and conditioners on the pH scale
  • As you can see from my diagram, soapy water is pretty far out there on the scale toward the basic side.
  • Soapy water is far more basic (or alkaline) than shampoo. If you washed your hair with bar soap, your hair would feel really dry and crackly and unpleasant afterward.
  • So the people who make shampoo put stuff in it to make it less drying than regular soap. The things they add are chemicals that are farther along the acid side of the pH scale, or things that carry more of a positive charge.
  • Even so, shampoo does have to have some soap in it to carry away the dirt in your hair. It also removes some of the natural oils and good moisture naturally present in your hair.
  • When shampoo takes away the dirt and the oils, it's also -- because it carries more negative charges -- stripping electrons from your hair and making the cuticle scales stand up.

Shampooing doesn't just remove the dirt, it also removes electrons and can make your hair staticky. Rinsing with hot water can worsen the situation, so it's best to rinse with lukewarm water.
(Photo from lifehacker)

  • So if you used only shampoo, your hair would still feel somewhat dry and it would tend to be staticky and fly-away.
  • Conditioners, on the other hand, don't have to have much soap in them. All they need to do is add moisture and calm down those cuticle scales.
  • So conditioners have more hydrogen ions, they have more of a positive charge, they are farther along the pH scale on the acidic side than shampoo. They're going to help your hair and its cuticle keep more of a positive charge, stay calm, lie flat, hold in the moisture.

Where hair conditioners, shampoo, soap, and hair relaxers fall, in general, on the pH scale.
(Diagram by the Apple Lady)

  • Generally speaking, shampoos fall on the pH scale between 4.5 to 6.7.
  • Most conditioners have a pH of around 2.5 to 3.5.
  • But there's no way for us consumers to know that. The manufacturers don't print the pH level on the bottle -- though it might be helpful if they did.
  • But knowing a few things about the stuff that goes into shampoos and conditioners will help you decide where your particular brand may fall on the moisturizes / dries out my hair -- er, I mean pH-- scale.

Shampoo ingredients

  • Alcohol makes a good cleaner, so lots of shampoos have it in there. But it does have a high pH and it will dry out your hair. Which is why most shampoo makers use cetyl alcohol, which is alcohol plus a fat. The fat helps retain moisture and makes it less drying than alcohol alone. But even cetyl alcohol has a high pH: somewhere between 6 and 8.
  • It's tough to find a shampoo that does not have cetyl alcohol in it, so if your goal is ultimate moisture, look for one where cetyl alcohol is farther down the list of ingredients.
  • Baby shampoos typically have a higher pH than regular shampoos. Some adults swear by the baby shampoos, but they are more alkaline and will dry your hair more than shampoos formulated for adults.

Yes, baby Virginia, your shampoo has a higher pH than adult shampoos.
(Photo from

Conditioner types and ingredients
  • If a conditioner promises shiny, bouncy hair, chances are it's an acidifier. These have pHs around 2.5 to 3.5. They'll close up those cuticle scales nicely without weighing down the hair. These are good for people with fine hair that leans toward flightiness.
  • Detanglers are also acidifiers, with pHs of about 2.5 to 3.5. These also shut down those cuticle scales, but some also add an another polymer that is designed to act like a protective coat over the hair.
  • Conditioners that promise to add moisture are often humectants. These attract and hold moisture. They may include botanical products, but not necessarily. Panthenol, one of the primary ingredients of Pantene, is a humectant. pHs of these vary quite a lot, but they fall in the 4 to 6.5 range.

Pantene makes a lot of different kinds of conditioners. But most probably fall in the humectant category.
(Photo from Budget Savvy Diva)

  • Conditioners that add proteins are called reconstructors. These are designed to strengthen hair. Since human hair is made of 19 amino acids, a lot of the reconstructors will try to duplicate the animo acid recipe that is present in the hair to get it to penetrate the cuticle and get to the cortex and stay there.
  • Believe it or not, there are some reconstructor conditioners that contain placenta (animal, not human). I couldn't find out what the pH of these is. But I'm so disturbed the placenta thing, I kind of don't care.
  • "Pack" conditioners tend to be thick and loaded with fatty acids, and they're meant to be left in for a long time. These are close cousins to the original conditioners, which were essentially lard, and they'll pretty much glue those cuticles back down to the cortex. These are intended for hair that's been severely damaged. If your hair hasn't been that damaged, these will make your hair feel too oily and weighed down.
  • There are also some hot oil treatments. Oils are not water soluble so they don't get a number on the pH scale. But because they're not water soluble, that means they won't rinse out of your hair very easily. Oil treatments are for people with really dry hair, or for people who have used hair relaxers -- which, you may have noticed, are among the most caustic substances that exist. (Hair relaxers is a whole other topic, but this page at Treasured Locks has some really helpful information.)

Home remedies to condition your hair
  • Vinegar is a surprisingly good acidifier / detangler. It's acidic -- I can't get used to thinking that acids are good things to put in my hair -- with a pH of 2.4. So it'll really help to counteract the alkaline soap action inherent in shampoo. Apple cider vinegar seems to be people's vinegar variety of choice. For tips on how to use a vinegar rinse, check out the Chagrin Valley Soap Company's page on using a Natural Vinegar Hair Rinse.
  • Mayonnaise makes a good reconstructor. Wash your hair with shampoo, glop on the full-fat mayonnaise, wrap your hair in a towel, and let it soak in for about an hour. Rinse in cold water, then wash your hair again with a very little bit of shampoo to get the smell out, and condition lightly once more.

Mayonnaise, homemade. Putting this in your hair will help add protein (eggs) and moisture (oil).
(Photo and recipe for homemade mayonnaise available from the One Messy Kitchen)

BBC, The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything, How Hair Conditioner Works
Killer Strands, Understanding Shampoo - through the pH scale
eHow, How Does Hair Conditioner Work?
Paul Decelles' Entangled Bank, The pH Scale
Nigel D. Purchon, pH
Bigen USA, All About Hair
Salonweb, Hair Conditioners
Howstuffworks, Home Remedies for Dry Hair
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits, Properties of Vinegar
Making Cosmetics, Cetyl Alcohol Material Safety Data Sheet
Treasured Locks, Black Hair Care Tips, Style and FAQs
Would you like some placenta with that hair conditioner? Green Daily

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apple #415: Purple Foods

A while back during dinner, I was mentioning to one of my fellow diners that there are such things as purple potatoes. No, my dining companion said, that makes no sense. But it's true, said I. And lo and behold, what was the side dish that came with my entree? Mashed Peruvian purple potatoes.

Then a few days ago I was eating some yogurt. Raspberry, I think the flavor was. I looked at the ingredients and one of them was "purple carrot concentrate." For the color, I assumed. But this means that there are purple carrots. Who knew?

So it is time to investigate purple foods. I'm not talking about foods that have been dyed purple. I mean the ones that grow that way. Nor am I talking about foods that people like to claim are purple, such as blueberries (blue, hence the name), or beets, which are red. I mean foods that are truly purple.

And I don't mean purple Peeps, either.
(Photo from Calvin College news)


First, I want to give you a few facts about why people are all excited about purple foods these days.

(Image from Scarlet Pixel)

  • Purple foods are high in certain types of flavonoids. These compounds have antioxidant properties, meaning they help protect against cellular damage. Generally speaking, the darker the fruit or vegetable, the more flavonoids.
  • One type of flavonoid in purple foods has been shown to bolster the health of blood vessels or in other words, improve cardiovascular health.
  • Another type of flavonoid present in purple foods is anthocyanins. People who eat foods with lots of anthocyanins typically have a lower rate of cancer.
  • Proanthocyanidins, another flavonoid, keep bacteria from clinging to the urinary tract, and so help prevent urinary tract infections.
  • I don't want to suggest that if you eat purple foods you will never get heart disease or cancer. It's only been shown that people who have higher levels of these flavonoids in their diet typically are less likely to get these diseases.
  • For those of you who like to keep up with the stars, Mariah Carey in 2006 would only eat foods that are purple. She said that plums keep away the wrinkles and stop the aging process. Well, we all know that there is no stopping the aging process. But she believed that strongly in the power of plums.


Some foods only have purple skins. These, to my mind, are a less impressive category than the through-and-through purple foods. But we'll get to those next.

Purple-on-the-outside foods do still have those lovely anthocyanins.


Eggplant. Clearly purple only on the outside.
(Photo from mysavvysavings)

  • Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, which makes them related to tomatoes, potatoes, and sweet peppers.
  • They grow from hanging from vines, which can grow several feet tall.
  • You might also have heard eggplant referred to as aubergine, which is the French word for eggplant.
  • People say eggplant has a "pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture," but I confess I've never found either of those characteristics especially pleasant.
  • Eggplant may also have skins that are jade green, purple and green-streaked, orange, or yellow-white.

  • Depending on the variety, the skins might be a reddish purple to a darker, richer purple. But the insides are not purple. Again, it depends on the variety, but the pulp of a plum might be anywhere from yellow to dark red.

These plums are yellow inside.
(Photo from Mix My Granola)

  • There are more than 2,000 varieties of plums grown in temperate climates around the world, but only about 20 varieties are grown widely and commercially. Most of those 20 are either Japanese or European.
  • Japanese varieties tend to be juicier and their skins tend to have a reddish tinge. The flesh may range from yellow to deep red.
  • European varieties are usually darker blue or purple, and the flesh is always yellow. many European plums are grown specifically to be dried into prunes.
  • Generally, the darker the skin of the plum, the more bitter the skin will be. The skins of red and yellow plums tend to be sweeter.
  • Like eggplant, plums have very high levels of serotonin. Some tests for cancerous tumors are done by screening for serotonin in urine. So if you're about to be tested to see if you have a cancerous tumor, don't eat a lot of plums beforehand because you might get a false positive.

  • Some varieties of figs are purple on the outside. The Mission fig is one such variety. But none are purple on the inside.

(Fig photo from the Joint Problems Blog)

  • Figs are extremely sensitive to fluctuations in the weather, they depend on the gall wasp to lay their eggs in a particular fashion and thus pollinate the flowers just so yet without damaging the flower, and the edible variety of fig depends on the inedible variety for pollination so that it will bear fruit. As a result, this crop can be very frustrating for farmers to grow.
  • Nonetheless, farmers around the Mediterranean Sea grow 1.5 million tons of figs each year.
  • Figs are entirely edible -- skin, seeds, and all.

Concord grapes

  • Now you might say that these are absolutely purple throughout. But, I assure you, the innards of Concord grapes are not purple.
Skinned Concord grapes. See? The insides are green!
(Photo from The Persnickety Palate)

  • You might also say that the skins look more blue than purple. Well, I'd say, maybe before washing, they have that dusty blue color on the outside.

These Concord grapes happen to be from Michigan
(Photo from Technical Assistance for Farmers)

  • But once you smash them up, they make everything purple.

Purple stuff you can make from Concord Grapes.
(Photo from The Kitchn)

  • Concord grapes are named after Concord, Massachusetts, where the first variety was grown just down the road from Thoreau's house in 1854. Ephraim Wales Bull developed the seedlings from the seeds of wild, native species that grew in New England.
  • One of the quintessential scents of fall, as far as I'm concerned, is the smell of Concord grapes.

Muscadine grapes
  • These are perhaps more obviously purple than the Concords.

Muscadine grapes
(Photo from trefoil's Hub Page)

  • These, too, are pale green on the inside.
  • Muscadine grapes are grown across the Southern US and west into Texas, but they are perhaps best-known in North Carolina. These grapes like it warm and humid.
  • They are also known as Scuppernong, which is an older more colloquial name. They were growing wild in North Carolina when Sir Walter Raleigh and other white folks arrived.

Red cabbage
  • This one is treading the lines a bit. Sometimes it does look more reddish than purple, as the name suggests. But I wouldn't put it in the Entirely Purple category because it's really only purple on top of each leaf.

This red cabbage definitely looks more purple.
(Photo from Food for Laughter)

  • But it is true that if you put red cabbage in cole slaw, for example, it will turn all the cole slaw purple. Or if you've ever had German red cabbage, which my dad dearly loves, that is definitely purple.

German red cabbage. Recipe at
(Photo from the Book of Yum)

  • Cabbages are cruciferous vegetables, a term which refers to their cross-shaped flowers. They are related to cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.

Purple asparagus

This variety of purple asparagus, "Purple Passion," is an exceptionally vibrant purple.
(Photo and plants available from Great Lakes Nursery Co.)

  • Purple asparagus is sweeter than the green variety because it has a higher sugar content. One grower says her purple asparagus never makes it out of the field to the table because they eat it as soon as it's picked, it's that tasty.
  • When cooked, the sweetness in purple asparagus softens to a mild, nutty flavor.
  • Purple asparagus also tends to be less stringy than the green varieties.

This variety of purple asparagus, "Purple Haze," isn't as dark on the outside. But, as you can see, it's green in the middle. As are all varieties of purple asparagus.
(Photo from -- how random is this -- the blog of Larry Appleton, the guy who played opposite Balki on Perfect Strangers)

Acai berries
  • OK, now we're starting to get exotic.
  • These berries only grow in Central and South America, but mainly in Brazil. Chances are, you haven't seen them in your grocery store, but you've seen 9,000 ads about them online.

Here's how acai berries grow
(Photo from Cactus Canyon)

Acai berries up close and personal. Not purple on the inside.
(Photo from My Acai Berry Drink)

  • People are making all sorts of health claims for them, or for acai berry juice, that they make you lose weight, that they prevent heart disease and cancer, that they are the fountain of youth, whatever.
  • We all know better than to fall for this. Don't let these overblown promises suck you in. Just because you've never heard of Acai berries before doesn't mean they're some secret miracle fruit that will fix every problem with your body and make you live forever. They're a fruit. That's it.
  • And, for Pete's sake, you know better than to give anybody your credit card number for a "free trial."
"There's no evidence whatsoever to suggest that acai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies, cleanse colon, enhance sexual desire, or perform any of the other commonly advertised functions." -- Center for Science in the Public Interest
  • All that said, acai berries are low in sugar as berries go, and the flavor is supposed to taste like a cross between red wine and chocolate.
  • Neither the skins nor the seeds are edible. Only the pulp. Which is not purple.

Purple bananas
  • No, I'm not making this up. There is one rare variety of banana that grows in China which has purple skins.

These purple bananas were spotted growing near the Xitou Vale in China.
(Photo from Life of Guangzhou)

  • I also saw one reference that suggested that purple bananas used to be grown in Cuba but maybe no longer? But maybe they are now sold in Australia? I only saw one mention of this and it wasn't too specific. Anybody out there from Cuba or Australia who can clarify this?


Purple Carrots

(Photo from Makeuptalk)

  • It is thought that carrots may have originated as purple and red roots in the region where Afghanistan is now, and after people brought them westward into Europe, perhaps yellow mutant varieties were crossed with other wild varieties to make orange carrots.

Some purple carrots are purple all the way through.
(Photo from the USDA ARS)

But in most pictures of sliced purple carrots, they are orange at the core. These look like they've been dyed purple, but they grew this way.
(Photo from We Are All Mozart)

  • Besides purple, there are also red, white, and yellow carrots.
  • Some food researchers have tested people's taste preferences and were surprised to discover that the majority of people -- children especially -- actually liked the purple carrots better than the orange ones.

Purple peppers

Depending on the variety, some purple peppers are only purple on the inside, and some are purple all the way through. They're also confusing. Among sweet peppers, here are some of the colorings that can happen:
  • Green bell peppers are actually picked too early for the seeds to mature fully. If left to ripen longer on the vine, they will turn purple. The flavor also gets sweeter and less bitter the longer they ripen / the more purple they become. Farmers typically pick them when they're green because doing so makes the plant produce more fruit.
  • Some purple bell pepper varieties -- Islander and Secret -- start out purple when they're immature, but they turn green as they ripen, and eventually turn red. These, when still purple, may have that not-yet-ripe bitter flavor.

Purple on the outside, green on the inside. I suspect these might be the purple bell peppers that, if left to ripen longer, might have turned red eventually.
(Grown and photo taken by Leslie at Palazzo Rospo)

With this one I'm really going to bet my money that it's an Islander (lavender) pepper that might have eventually turned red.
(Photo from A Public Healthy Appetite)

  • Sweet bell peppers that are truly purple include these varieties:
  1. Sweet Chocolate
  2. Lilac
  3. Chocolate Beauty
  4. Purple Beauty

This is a Chocolate Beauty bell pepper which starts out green but will ripen to this deep, chocolate purple.
(Photo and plant available from Brewery Creek Garden Center)

Here's a Sweet Chocolate bell pepper, allowed to ripen completely. It's more red on the inside than purple, but it sure isn't green!
(Photo and seeds available from Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds)

There are also some hot peppers that can be purple.
  • Most of the hot ones that are purple only start out that way and as they ripen will turn yellow, orange, and finally red. These are usually quite hot!
  • Serrano peppers are hot, and they start out purple, but they stay that way.

Serrano peppers start purple and stay purple when ripe. These are hot freddies!
(Photo from the Tomato Growers Supply Company where you can buy these and other hot pepper plants)

Purple cauliflower

(Creative Commons photo sourced from The Flowering Garden)

  • This one sure looks dyed, but it's not. The purple is truly part of the vegetable.

Cauliflower, purple, through and through. Some varieties do have more white in the middle. It also appears that, in the case of some varieties, the purple might spread or darken during the cooking process. This cauliflower has been braised with bread crumbs and capers.
(Photo and recipe from Speedbump kitchen)

  • With some varieties, though, the purple does fade during cooking. "Violet Queen," which sounds like it would be the most impressive, is one of the faders. "Graffiti" retains its color much better.
  • One cook suggests adding a few tablespoons of lemon juice to help the purple cauliflower stay purple during cooking.
  • Cauliflower is related to cabbage (remember, from the red/purple cabbage sub-entry above?)
  • Growers in Great Britain and Italy sell something called purple cauliflower, but it's really a type of broccoli.
  • Cauliflower -- regardless of its color -- has been shown to help the liver reduce the toxicity of carcinogenic substances, specifically helping to protect against prostate cancer.

Purple potatoes

No doubt about it, purple potatoes are purple all the way through.
(Photo from Eli Cooks)

  • Purple potatoes are originally from South America, most commonly, Peru.
  • They're somewhat hard to find in the US, but you're more likely to see them in the fall.
  • They have a "subtle, nutty flavor."
  • You can prepare purple potatoes the same way you would any other potato, although their color stays the most vivid when microwaved.
  • The purple potatoes I had, which arrived mashed, admittedly didn't look very palatable. And the flavor was a bit bland. But I think that's a potential downfall with potatoes in general and, in skilled hands with maybe some sour cream or some such deliciousness, they would be just as excellent as any potato.

Eat a Rainbow, part 4, The Diet Channel, December 15, 2006
Linus Pauling Institute, Antioxidant Activities of Flavonoids
Fighting Cancer by the Bramble, Columbus Dispatch, May 22, 2007
Mariah Carey Will Only Eat It If It's Purple, Star Pulse, June 30, 2006
The World's Healthiest Foods, Eggplant
Food, Plums
Innvista, plums, Special Feature: Sweet Figs
Concord Grape Association, The History of Concord Grapes
Melissa Ray Davis' Hub Page, Muscadines: Native Grapes of the South
California Rare Fruit Growers Fruit Facts, Muscadine Grape
USDA Agricultural Research Service, America's First Grape: The Muscadine
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WebMD, Acai Berries and Acai Berry Juice -- What Are the Health Benefits?
Group challenges acai berry weight loss claims,, March 23, 2009
Brazilian Acai Berry Antioxidants Absorbed by Human Body, Research Shows, ScienceDaily, October 17, 2008
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Trustar Healthnotes, Potatoes
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"Why not a purple pepper?" Sunset, October 1984
Organic Garden, Purple Asparagus