Remember When Red Pistachios Were In Every Bar in Connecticut?
My dad was a food and beverage worker, he worked in kitchens and bars his whole life, and one thing that I'll always remember is his coming home from work in the 1970's & 80's with a red mouth. My dad and I loved red pistachios, and every bar that he worked at had a gumball machine full of them.
It was a different world back then, and businesses were able to serve an inferior product to the public with a little trickery. Most pistachios before 1980 were imported into the United States, and sprayed with red dye to mask any imperfections. Another explanation for the red dye that's out there is a vendor in NYC dyed their nuts in order for them to stand out among the competitors' natural coloring.
The red dye had no taste, it didn't make the pistachio taste any sweeter or effect the texture. So what happened to the red pistachio? Why did it disappear? California.
More than 98% of the pistachios sold in the US are grown in California, and that California sunshine helps when it comes to producing flawless nuts. Add in modern farming, and voila! Manufacturers didn't need to dye their product anymore.
Here's the difference though, pistachios from Turkey and Iran have that distinct flavor that you remember from your youth. Don't believe me? Go to any Nardelli's here in Connecticut and pick up a bag of Bazzini Pistachios. They're the closest that I've found that still have that classic taste.
You can still find red pistachios online, here's a listing I found on Amazon, but believe me, I haven't found them anywhere in the Northeast in decades. I'll never forget those gumball machines filled with red pistachios though, they were in every bar and grocery store in Connecticut, and my dad always had a dollar in quarters for me.
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