The Untold Truth Of Edible Arrangements

Gifts of fruit aren't new at all; the Kitchn notes that giving oranges for Christmas has been a thing since at least the Great Depression. But the late 20th century brought a major innovation to the fruit-gifting sector: fruit bouquets. Skewers of shaped fruit slices arranged like flowers in a vase were the brainchild of Tariq Farid, a young flower shop owner. Although the concept got off to a rocky start, it quickly caught on. Eventually, Farid opened Edible Arrangements in 1999, selling everything from boxes of chocolate-dipped fruit slices to the now-famous bouquets of "flowers" made from pineapple, melon, strawberries, and more.

Consumer Reports says gift baskets as a whole are often looked upon as the thing to give when you don't know what else to give. Whether that's really why people give them remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that they are one of the most popular gifts to give, with fruit being a runaway winner (via Gift Shop Magazine and Consumer Reports). Edible Arrangements allowed people to not only send fruit but also to send something useful and healthy, rather than providing products that the recipient may or may not be able to eat. This emphasis on freshness and health has been one of many things that have repeatedly propelled Edible Arrangements into many top-franchise lists (via PR Newswire and Entrepreneur). Grab a skewer of berries and melon, sit back, and learn about the untold truth of Edible Arrangements.

The first fruit bouquets were sold in a flower shop

Edible Arrangements did not burst onto the scene in fully fledged franchise form. It actually started in a corner of a flower shop. Owner Tariq Farid had bought the flower shop in 1986 as a teenager, keen to build a business. As he built up a successful career, expanding the flower shop into four locations, he got the idea to combine flowers with fresh fruit as he'd noticed that people were really starting to eat a lot more of it in addition to buying more gifts. Now, that combination isn't new, but what Farid did was cut the fruit into flower-like shapes and skewer the pieces, which were then arranged to look like a bouquet.

Despite the cute bouquets and successful business history, Farid couldn't get a bank loan to build up his business. Instead of giving up, he and his brother created a mini Edible Arrangements store within one of his flower shops. This was in 1999, and within two years, he had two full Edible Arrangements stores. That grew into a franchise after a customer suggested they consider making that leap, mainly because the customer was eager to own one of those franchises (via ABC News). Since then, the company has expanded into an international franchise, weathered a terrible recession, fended off multiple lawsuits, and thrived during the COVID pandemic. Not bad for a company that started in part because its founder just really liked cantaloupe (via Forbes).

The company was a rare retail success story due to the pandemic

The beginning of the COVID pandemic and the shutdowns in March and April of 2020 sent many businesses and organizations into a downward spiral. Not only were companies closing and people being laid off, but the supply chain also went into freefall as illness made workers and drivers stay home and as people bought up everything in stores, resulting in a lot of empty shelves.

But Edible Arrangements saw an opportunity and ran away with it at full speed. The company quickly pivoted to delivering boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the demand for that plus the greatly increased demand for bouquet deliveries sent the company's profits up, up, and away, increasing by a full 32% in 2020 (via Franchise Times). People wanted gifts sent to elderly relatives stuck in nursing homes and to coworkers who contracted COVID (via Slate). In May 2020, one delivery worker told The New York Times that her deliveries had increased four-fold over pre-pandemic numbers.

The company rapidly expanded into other products, including music downloads

Order something from Edible Arrangements now and you'll find you have a choice between the classic fruit bouquets and other products such as balloons, cheesecake, popcorn, and nuts. You can even place an order for treats plus a bouquet of actual flowers. An expansion into other food products is not unexpected, but Edible Arrangements got creative. Not only did it add more food and celebration-type products, like those balloons, but it created Edible Ink that customers could use, plus — of all things — a streaming music platform called Edible Music (via Franchise Times).

The music selection is linked to holidays. In December 2021, for example, Franchise Times noted the platform featured Christmas songs; in February 2022, Rolling Stone reported that the company was including in certain orders a code to an exclusive download of an Air Supply album plus access to one of the band's concerts for Valentine's Day. No word on what the company plans to do next with Edible Music, if anything.

The company was sued over mandates that made it harder to get fresh fruit

The relationship between a franchisor and franchisee can have its highs and lows, but a number of Edible Arrangements franchisees became so unhappy with franchisor policy that they formed a group and sued the company in 2010. The Edible Arrangements Independent Franchisee Association represented franchisees who claimed the company's policies had gradually changed so much for the worse that the franchisees found it very difficult to operate. Complaints included forcing stores to get products from specific vendors, some of whom were so far away from the stores that the stores couldn't get fresh fruit as quickly as they needed it (via the New Haven Register).

Additional claims stated that the company required stores to be open on Sundays — a story in Franchise Times Magazine notes that franchisees claimed there was not enough traffic on Sunday to warrant opening the stores — and dropped franchisees' share of online sales revenue from 100% to 20%. reported that another claim detailed how Edible Arrangements created a separate fruit-order website that competed for business with franchise locations. The company ended up settling with the group after three years, changing some of its policies. That included making Sundays optional again (via Blue MauMau).

Franchisees sued again over CBD products

But the 2010 lawsuit wasn't the last. In 2020, another group of franchisees sued, again claiming the main company was making life much too difficult. One of the complaints was similar to something in the 2010 lawsuit; in 2010, franchisees could buy equipment and supplies only from company-chosen suppliers, even if other suppliers had better prices, and in the 2020 lawsuit, they claimed they were required to buy equipment and supplies only from companies owned by Farid, calling the practice "price gouging" (via Slate).

But a particular situation that created a lot of animosity occurred when Edible Brands created Incredible Edibles, a brand that would sell CBD-infused food. For some franchisees, this was a non-starter because state laws either forbade these products or required so many regulatory steps that the franchisees didn't want to deal with them. Slate reported that as of mid-2022, Incredible Edibles were available at only one store, plus online, and the company gives only vague indications that the brand might move forward.

What really got to franchisees about the CBD products was that their fees and time had to go toward this new brand, rather than their current stores. This on top of the rapid increase in products that the company sold — many of which required buying new equipment, too — was too much for the franchisees. However, a federal judge ruled in late 2020 that the franchisees must use arbitration instead.

The company has had complaints about moldy fruit

An Edible Arrangements fruit bouquet is supposed to have fresh, crisply cut and shaped pieces of fruit. Of course, cut fruit is perishable and can deteriorate within a short time even if stored properly, and that includes forming mold. If you've ever grabbed a container of strawberries out of the fridge only to find a few berries turning white and fuzzy, you'll know how common it is.

Even Edible Arrangements warns that if you store its chocolate-covered strawberries incorrectly, the berries will mold quickly. However, when your business depends on cut fruit remaining fresh and safe to eat, the last thing you want is for that fruit to be moldy when customers buy it. Yet more than a few complaints have surfaced about moldy fruit in these bouquets. One such complaint on the website for the Better Business Bureau in Greensboro, North Carolina, mentions finding mold on plain fruit and mold under chocolate after a customer bit into a chocolate-covered strawberry. Another complaint on the Pissed Consumer website about a Milltown, New Jersey, store said an entire order of chocolate-covered strawberries was covered with mold less than a day after the customer bought them.

The founder now concentrates on the main brand and no longer runs Edible Arrangements itself

Like a lot of major companies that grew from humble one-store operations to chains of national and international franchises, Edible Arrangements has changed over the years, creating a parent company and making the Edible Arrangements name one brand among others under that parent company. The parent company, Edible Brands, covers not only the fruit franchises but also brands associated with technology and other aspects of retail such as supply-chain management. In 2018, Farid decided to step down as CEO of Edible Arrangements so he could take on the title of CEO of Edible Brands itself (via

The move was part of a plan to expand Edible Brands. The previous year, Farid had bought back the equity that an equity firm had held for five years, ensuring that the company was fully under his control (via PR Newswire). In an interview with CNN, Farid said the company would carry more products and was "repositioning" itself.

The company has a program that helps military veterans become franchisees

Military members leaving the Armed Forces and returning to civilian life face obstacles that make it hard for many of them to find jobs. A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 25% of veterans had a job to go to straight out of the military, and a 2016 study by the U.S. Chamber Foundation found that 53% of veterans went through at least four months of unemployment after leaving the military. CBS News spoke with some veterans who said issues like a lack of a college degree or ending up underemployed were among the factors that made getting a job so difficult. For those that did find work, the Pew Research Center notes that many felt like they were overqualified or that the job was not a good fit.

Enter Edible Arrangements and its commitment to helping veterans. Not only has the company donated money to VetFran, which is a program through the International Franchise Association that helps veterans become franchisees, but the company also created its own veteran-franchising program called Hero's Welcome. This program includes training, fee discounts, and goals to add more veterans as franchise owners. Farid began the program as a way to pay back veterans for their service.