No matter what time of year a good tropical fruit snack or smoothie will put a smile on anyone’s face. While most believe all fruit is created equal, and going to the grocery store and choosing a mango of their preferred ripeness is harmless, they are wrong. Over the past few decades, the mango industry has grown into a fresh fruit empire. With many different varieties. Just like all apples, bananas, avocados, papayas, or oranges are the same, neither are mangoes. Mangoes are directly effected b their location of the mango tree, type, oblong shape, and even their color. One very popular commercial mango is the Tommy Atkins mango. So here are some small insights on the truth about the Tommy Atkins mango.
The Truth About The “Stringy” Mango
Today a variety of mango called Tommy Atkins is going to take the hit. And I’m not sorry, Tommy. You’ll often see *them* (the Tommys) displayed in the produce aisle as “dark red blush” mangoes. For the uninitiated, here’s exactly what the red charlatans look like. (Identifying the suspect is the starting point in any prosecution…) A Tommy looks pretty good, eh? Let me tell you, the beautiful red color is deceiving. Here’s the rub of mango truth:
Tommy Atkins mangoes, compared to real deal mangoes, are *really bland* in taste and are *fibrous.* And when I say fibrous, I mean *stringy* Tommys don’t have buttery flesh. Tommys don’t have smooth flesh. Do they taste awful? No, but I give them a C- or D+.
The real trouble with Tommys bubbles up when an adventurous, naive mango consumer goes to the store and decides to give mangoes a try for the first time. This is *the* critical mango moment. The shopper picks up a handful of red mangoes because that’s most likely what the store has stocked. And dammit, they are pretty to boot. The happy shopper takes them home, gives them a try, and forever thinks that mangoes are *just okay.*
This is a sad day for mangoes. Why? Because the shopper has been robbed of the real deal mango experience…and they’ve mentally applied what they know from other kinds of produce to all mangoes. Carrots taste like carrots. A banana tastes like the next banana. A mango must taste like all other mangoes. And therefore, having tasted the Tommy Atkins, the opinion of the shopper is set for all time: all mangoes must be “just okay.” In reality, nothing could be further from the truth!
Don’t Be Afraid To Question The Commercial Variety
My advice is this: if you are looking to eat fresh mangoes and want the real deal mango experience, don’t buy Tommy Atkins mangoes. If you find yourself in the produce aisle and aren’t sure about the mangoes on display, ask a produce employee if the mangoes are smooth-fleshed or fibrous. If the employee doesn’t know (and usually they don’t) ask them to cut one open to see if the flesh is smooth. Before I could discern one variety of mango from another, I made this request many times and I never had to pay for the cut mango. I’ve left lots of fibrous mangoes to someone else as a result of having one cut open for a quality test. The secondary benefit of this approach is that it puts the produce folks on notice that fibrous mangoes are not acceptable for fresh eating purchases.
Now to be fair to Tommys, maybe they work fine in a mango food processing context, (like canned or dried mango products) but they are a lousy choice when one wants to stand over the kitchen sink and slurp the goodness of a real deal mango.
The REASON that Tommy Atkins mangoes are so prevalent as United States imports are, you guessed it: margin. They are more profitable and easy to manage. Tommys are easy to grow. Tommys have long shelf lives. Tommy’s fair better in handling and transportation. And unfortunately, the vast majority mangoes available in US markets are Tommy Atkins mangoes. (Except in regions like Hawaii and Florida, which can grow their own.)
Bottom line advice for fresh mango consumers: Leave the Tommy Atkins mangoes on the shelves. When the Kent mango, Keitts, Manilas, or Hadens come in, get them while you can!!! Eventually, produce buyers will get the message.