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Forklore: Movie dates

June 3, 2012 |  8:00 am

Forklore sigMoviegoers may be shocked to learn that there is such a thing as a jujube tree, but Ziziphus jujuba was domesticated in China 4,000 years ago and has been raised in warm, dry climates as far west as North Africa for thousands of years.

A fresh jujube fruit looks like something between a tiny green apple and a largish olive, and its white, crisp flesh has an intriguing flavor like a not-very-sweet, not-at-all-juicy apple. When it dries, the skin becomes wrinkled and dark red and the flesh tastes like a date. Dried jujubes are sold in Asian markets under the name of Chinese date.

Jujubes are sometimes candied, and in various parts of Asia the fruits are stewed with grain or meat. They're an essential part of the Chinese vegetarian dish Eight Treasures.

But you want to know about those jujube candies they sell in movie theaters.

OK. At the turn of the century, jujubes were thought good for chest complaints. Those candies originally contained jujube juice, and they may have been popular in theaters because people didn't want to cough and disturb their neighbors. Now they're just chewy, gum-based candies with any sort of fruit flavor.

--Charles Perry

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