Thoughts and Hints

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Bing Cherries and Chinese Exclusion Act

Bing Cherries Named After Chinese Immigrant 

Now You Know ... how names of things and colloquialisms
come about can be interesting and, even, fascinating


The Bing Cherry

You've probably never wondered what the "Bing" in "Bing Cherries" means. As it turns out, a Chinese immigrant named Ah Bing helped cultivate the Bing variety of cherries when he worked on a farm in Oregon.

Also interesting, Ah Bing lived in an era of persecution and racism against the Chinese. Like immigrants today, the Chinese worked at lower wages as laborers, but were derided for hurting American wages and stealing jobs. Hence, as historian Erika Lee writes, "arguments in support of Chinese exclusion arose." Sound familiar?

So, in 1882, the government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, barring Chinese laborers from entering the U.S. for decades. And, inciting violence against the Chinese, including driving them out of town and burning their homes. 

While Ah Bing was protected by his employer, he eventually left for a visit to his homeland. It is believed that, due to the Exclusion Act, he was not allowed re-entry to the U.S. Yet, despite being barred and persecuted, unknowingly, his name is immortalized on every bag of Bing Cherries sitting in grocery stores!

To read more details of this story: The Tragic Roots of America's Favorite Cherries



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