In the Soviet Union, a joke was popular: we have three types of bananas - dried, green and rag. And rag "bananas" were called trousers - wide at the hips and narrow at the ankles. Such "bananas" were the dream of Soviet youth in the eighties.
But edible bananas first appeared in the Soviet Union in 1938. A few years after Stalin's famous phrase "life has become better, life has become more fun."
Indeed, the country recovered after the revolution and the Civil War, therefore, it became possible to pamper the population of the Land of the Soviets with exotic fruits.
True, only residents of Moscow and the capitals of the Union republics could afford to buy bananas, in the provinces they did not even hear about bananas. In large cities of Tsarist Russia, bananas were sold even before the start of the First World War, but in a quarter of a century they managed to forget about them there. And once they were in huge clusters in the famous Moscow store of Eliseev on Tverskaya Street.
According to the recollections of Anastas Mikoyan, who at that time held the post of People's Commissar for Foreign Trade, Stalin liked bananas. Soon after the end of World War II, the "leader of the peoples" ordered to re-purchase them for the central stores of large cities of the USSR. But Mikoyan himself did not like bananas, and did not understand why he needed to spend precious currency on them.
Bananas arrived in the USSR unripe, so as not to deteriorate during transportation. Therefore, immediately after the purchase, they were not eaten, but wrapped in paper and placed in a dark place to ripen.
Since the mid-fifties, China and Vietnam have become the main suppliers of bananas to the USSR. Moreover, they no longer had to spend much currency on them, bananas were supplied to repay loans and for the supply of military equipment. Gradually, relations between the USSR and China became tense, and Vietnam became practically a banana "monopoly". Then friendly Cuba joined in. Currently, most of the bananas are sourced from Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and the Philippines.
In 1957, the children's film "The Old Man Hottabych" was released on the screens of Soviet cinemas. In one of the episodes, bananas were shown in bright green. For filming, not real fruits were used, but a dummy made of papier-mâché. The props made the bananas exactly as they appeared on the counters of Soviet stores, without even suspecting that ripe bananas are yellow.
In addition to fresh ones, dried, or rather, dried bananas were also supplied to the Soviet Union. From China they were shipped in flat metal boxes, and from Vietnam in transparent vacuum packaging.
Fresh bananas in the USSR were not only rare, but also quite expensive - one kilogram cost 2 rubles. That is, the price was equal to about ten loaves of bread.
In September 1991, the USSR Customs Committee issued a decree that exempted a large list of goods from import tax. Bananas are also included in this list. Soon their import into our country increased 600 times. You can now buy bananas at any grocery store.