How Harry & David Pears Became A Holiday Tradition

Everyone has their own treasured holiday food traditions, from fruitcakes to latkes to tamales and beyond. Food can be such a powerful source of memories, and for some people, the festive winter months just wouldn't be complete without Harry & David pears. If you've never had one, you might be asking what makes them so special. And with a $40 price tag, they must be pretty special. 

Grown in Southern Oregon since 1934, the company's signature "Royal Riviera" pears have been a favorite for nearly 90 years (via Harry & David). This variety of Comice pear is known for its sweet flavor and velvety texture, leading Harry and David's founders to create (and trademark) the tagline "so big and juicy, you eat them with a spoon" (via Eater). Some even suggest that the Comice pears are grown better in Oregon's natural climate than in their native France. But how did such a specific type of pear become such a ubiquitous holiday tradition?

Generations of gift giving

Harry & David pears have a reputation for luxury, which is a big reason they're so popular for gift-giving holidays. As Portland Monthly explains, the fruit is harvested between August and November, with a stop off in cold storage to mimic the drop in temperature during the Fall. This leads to a perfectly ripe pear just in time for the holidays. And, as FoodSided points out, the company's gift baskets can be great for convenient last-minute gifts or entertaining unexpected guests during the bustling winter months. 

Nostalgia may also play a substantial role in this tradition. According to Eater, Harry & David were the first mail-order fruit company, and many families have been sending and receiving baskets of these pears for generations. Harry & David receive letters from customers sharing the ways the classic pears are woven into their holiday traditions, with one woman writing that her grandfather used to give them out to all the kids with $10 tucked inside! For some, having these pears around the house during the holidays is a powerful memory from childhood, one that's easy to continue on today with just a few clicks — provided you're willing to pay.