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Vidalia Onion

History

The Pioneer of All Sweet Onions


What is now a deeply-entrenched summer tradition started out as a fluke.

During the tough days of the Great Depression, farmers had high hopes of a new cash crop. These hard-working men had grown everything from corn to cotton in Georgia’s sandy soil, and onions seemed to hold some promise of better profits. Imagine their surprise and concern when what grew was not an instant money-maker but a strange onion that wasn’t hot!

Two key factors came about in the pioneering onion’s early history: a market and a “pig.” Shortly after South Georgia farmers unwittingly planted sweet onions, the state built a farmers’ market in the area. The new facility was not only located at the hub of several major roads, but also it was almost dead center among the bustling towns of Macon, Augusta, and Savannah. Word of “those sweet onions from Vidalia” began to spread throughout the state, and a name was born. Image:  Vidalia Onion Growing Area Map

Soon, people were requesting that their relatives bring along the atypically sweet onions when they visited, and corporations like the local electric company would pass them along as gifts to their clients. “Vidalias” were destined for greatness!

As fortune would have it, Piggly Wiggly grocery store happened to be headquartered in Vidalia. Recognizing the potential of the peculiar produce, the gentlemen who ran “The Pig” gladly helped farmers from all over the Vidalia area get their newfound sweeties on store shelves.

From the local market in the 1940s to the national super stores of today, the popularity of Vidalia Onions continues to escalate. No longer just a “southern thing,” Vidalias are available in 50 states and most of Canada. So, next time you’re on the way to a spring barbeque or summer picnic, pick up a 40-pound bag. They’re as synonymous with these warm seasons as iced tea and watermelon slices!