Pineapple, Ungratefulness, and Pain

Main Piece: 

It’s this folklore or like this tale my mom used to tell me about how this poor family. The mom had like this child and she did like a lot of work to try to make sure her kid was happy. But the child was always like disrespectful, and like unappreciative of the mother’s hard work. And she kept asking for pineapples and like kept asking like I want pineapples. Like why don’t you ever feed me pineapples? All you feed me is like plain plain food. We never get like any good pineapples, the neighbors do. And so it was it like a fairy or like some celestial Spirit came down and was like, Hey, kid, do you want a pineapple? You keep fucking asking for like, goddamn pineapple. Maybe if you helped your mom out with like the work you got some pineapples. She’s like I shouldn’t have to and he’s like, You know what? I’ll give you pineapples. You can have all the pineapples you want. The only condition is you have to eat it all in one sitting. And so the kid ate a shit ton of pineapples. And because it’s a super acidic fruit, it burned through her tongue. And so it was just like, kind of like a scary little folk tale of like, how you should be appreciative of your, you know, elders and parents. 

Informant’s relationship to the piece: 

“This was like a common tale that like both my mom and dad used to tell me, and I was like, ‘Can I have McDonald’s’, and they’re like, ‘No’. And it’s yeah, a little manipulative. But, I mean, it is true. Like our parents do so much for us. And sometimes we forget how much they do for us. Um and they’re all a little cryptic in cursed ways. But they have sacrificed a lot for us and sometimes by not acknowledging that we end up harming ourselves. Like the little girl who didn’t help her mom and just wanted pineapples and burned her tongue. 


The informant is one of my roommates, a 21-year-old Vietnamese American college student at the University of Southern California. This performance was collected in our living room with one of our other roommates as we were talking about our family and the stories we grew up with. 


Me and my informant are both Asian, and we both grew up with a lot of stories that were supposed to scare us into being good, but this story specifically focuses on appreciating what you’ve been given, and as my informant mentioned, she was told this story when she would ask for fast food, and in addition to being told no, she would also be told this story. This story also imparts the cultural values of respecting your elders and not asking for too much. I think these stories are an easier way to convey these values than just being told that by parents because there’s an element of fear and consequence of major physical harm, which most parents would never threaten their children with. Although, I will say when I was looking into this story to annotate it, I couldn’t find any version of it, but I did find one about a girl who was turned into a pineapple that follows the first half of the story my roommate told me. So who knows, maybe this story was a way for my informants parents specifically to scare her.

For the closely related pineapple story that’s found both in Vietnam and the Philippines see: