The Sweet Reason Strawberries And Cream Is Served At Wimbledon

The Augusta Nationals have pimento cheese sandwiches, per Golf Digest. The Kentucky Derby has its mint julep, per Town and Country. But the spread at Wimbledon, one of the tennis world's most important tournaments, is decidedly more upscale: a bowl of strawberries and sweet cream enjoyed either with a glass of Pimm's or champagne, per CNN. Dishes of strawberries and cream are so popular around Wimbledon athletes have been known to personalize the snack to make it their own, per YouTube.

The strawberries served at Wimbledon aren't the kind you pick up at a grocery before heading over to watch the day's match. They're grown in farms located in Kent, about 41 miles away from London. Metro adds that the strawberries are all taken from farms registered with a charity called LEAF, which promotes a mix of chemical and organic farming.

Johnny Perkins, a spokesperson for the venue, told CNN, "The strawberries are now picked on the day they are served. They are harvested at around 4 am and arrive at the site at about 11 am to be hulled [have their leafy growths removed] and inspected. So it's a pretty quick turnaround between them being picked and being served to the spectators." Because there are 13 days of play, this routine gets repeated every day for that period of time. Metro says the treat has been priced to sell at just over $3.05 since 2010.

Strawberries and cream have been served for over a century

Strawberries and cream have been a part of British cuisine since 1509 when King Henry VIII's assistant, Thomas Wolsey, purportedly first served it as a dessert, likely because its ingredients were easy to find (via GBMag). It appeared at Wimbledon in 1877, which is when the game started being played at the venue. Johnny Perkins surmised the dessert's popularity probably had more to do with circumstance, as he told CNN, "It was probably two things — strawberries were in season at the time the tournament was played, and in Victorian England they had become a fashionable thing to eat." 

Perkins added, "They [strawberries and cream] were part of afternoon tea, which had become a fashionable ritual, and that took root at Wimbledon." And while cream is usually served as an option, Metro says a new plant-based version of the treat has also made its appearance at Wimbledon, so vegans and vegetarians are now able to enjoy strawberries and cream in all its glory. All told, Wimbledon says 191,930 servings of strawberries were served when it was last held, along with 276,291 glasses of Pimm's. And while there may be other snacks you can find at Wimbledon — we're looking at you, sandwiches, bananas, and ice cream –  strawberries and cream still rule the Centre Court.