Monthly Archives: August 2012

Berry Colors

How many Crayola colors have berry names? Until I did the post on botanical berries (“Berries by Definition”), my list was very short. For the sake of brevity here, I’ll stick to the ones containing the word “berry.” How many do you know (or remember)? Some have been retired or renamed.

  • Jazzberry Jam
  • Mulberry
  • Wild Strawberry
  • Blueberry
  • Razzmic Berry
  • Cranberry

For more information on colors and history of our favorite “coloring crayons,” which is what I called them back in the 1940s, check out the Crayola website.

All of the original eight colors introduced in 1903, are still production: Blue, Black, Brown, Green, Orange, Red, Violet (Purple) and Yellow. It’s nice to know some things do not change.


Berries by Definition

Did you know watermelon, avocados and bananas are berries? I was not surprised to find currants, cranberries, and even grapes and tomatoes on the list of botanical berries. But watermelon?

By definition, botanical berries are a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Google “berries,” and I think (unless you are a botanist) you’ll be surprised to discover some of the fruits that meet the definition.

Berry Good is Very Bad

Here’s a story you will not find in my book: People laughed when the character Chico Esquela imitated a Latino baseball player on Saturday Night Live back in the seventies. Some thought my friend Felix Millan was the inspiration for the character played by Garrett Morris. Others thought it was someone else. We’ll probably never know for sure.

I asked Felix about it when we were writing his autobiography TOUGH GUY GENTLE HEART. He knew nothing about the character or even the popular television program. Even though he played for the Mets at that time, he just was not into American television.

He admitted that he hated it when people imitated a Spanish accent in a way that made Latinos look silly or stupid. Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente was another one who bristled when reporters spelled out his responses phonetically to imitate his accent.

While Felix knew nothing about the Saturday Night Live character, he told me the word “very” gave him the most trouble. No matter how deliberately he pronounced the “v,” reporters wrote it as a “b.” He would  carefully enunciate each word when he said, “Baseball has been very good to me.” Invariably, his quote would be printed, “Beisbol ben berry good to me.”

With nearly one-third of Major League Baseball players today coming from Spanish-speaking countries, that practice is not as prevalent as it was several years ago, but my Latino friends and family members say it is still done.

Skinny on Berries

Sure, they are delicious and nutritious. It’s great to know berries are low in calories, too. Here’s the skinny on the number of calories in one cup of eight common berries, raw or frozen, and without sugar, of course:

Strawberries: 49

Mulberries: 60

Blackberries: 63

Raspberries: 64

*Boysenberries: 75

Loganberries: 81

Blueberries: 84

Elderberries: 106

*Boysenberries are a cross between blackberries, raspberries and loganberries. I was introduced to these great-tasting treats at Knott’s Berry Farm in California many years ago. Love ’em!

SOURCES for calorie count: and


Fresh-picked wild blackberries, thanks to my sister Pat.

Growing up in Michigan, it seems like there was some kind of berry ready for picking all summer long.  While we grew strawberries and red raspberries in our own garden,  it took a trip to the countryside or Grandpa Allen’s chicken yard to find two of my favorites, wild blackcaps and blackberries. Mom knew where to harvest huckleberries, elderberries and mulberries, too.

I especially hated picking blackberries because of their long sharp thorns. Of course, they were always ripe for picking on the hottest days of summer. Mom made sure my siblings and I wore long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes to go berry-picking. (Except for Sunday school, berry-picking was one of the few times we wore shoes in summer.)

The thing that kept us going, of course, was the promise of berries on our Corn Flakes, berry shortcake made with sweet biscuit dough, and berry jam on toast.

I snapped the picture above while in Michigan last month. Looks like my little sister and her husband will have some good eating next winter!