Even though you can still find yellow, purple and white carrots out there, the color that we mostly associate with this delicious root vegetable is hands down orange. But as surprising as it may sound, many historians now suggest that carrots became orange for political reasons.
According to this theory, Dutch growers started cultivating orange carrots to honor William III, also known as William of Orange, for leading the Dutch independence. Allegedly, the color stuck and this is why carrots are mostly orange today. But is this the case though?
Let’s look at the facts. (the article continues after the ad)
It’s true that carrots didn’t use to be orange. They were mostly white and purple but, about 1,100 years ago, farmers living in the region we now call Afghanistan, domesticated the wild carrots and turned them yellow but taking advantage of a mutation in the genes. European farmers took another turn and turned yellow carrots to dark orange.
It’s also true that the orange carrot was incredibly popular in the Netherlands and it was also one of the items that were ‘dedicated’ to the Royal family. What’s not true is that orange carrots were specifically developed to pay tribute to William of Orange. And that is because, according to the Carrot Museum, evidence of orange carrots can be found as early as the 6th century.
What makes more sense is that the Dutch first adopted orange as their national color and then associated orange carrots with the Royal family – the orange carrot came first. Moreover, there is no written evidence or document that supports this theory. Therefore, no matter how this myth is repeated, it still remains pure folklore.
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Sources: Why Are Carrots Orange? It is Political | Carrots – The Road to Domestication