If you love kiwi, jackfruit or jicama, thank this woman

“Clad in high heels and a pencil skirt, Frieda Caplan was already an anomaly in the male-dominated produce wholesale markets of the 1950s, a job that came about simply because she needed to find part-time work while she was still breast-feeding her infant daughter Karen; the odd hours of the industry, with much of the work starting in the wee hours of the morning, provided the flexibility she wanted.

“Eventually, Caplan struck out on her own, building a thriving business where other women could come get a job: “No one hired women in sales back then,” she says in a phone interview. When she was later honored with the “Produce Man of the Year” award in 1979 by the Packer, a produce industry publication, she simply handed it back.

‘I was so surprised when they called out my name as the awardee,’ Caplan says, ‘but I was a woman! How could they call it Produce Man of the Year?’ She was happy to accept the award later when it was renamed Produce Marketer of the Year.”

See: “If you’re an American who loves kiwi, jackfruit or jicama, you have this 96-year-old woman to thank” by Kristen Hartke in the Washington Post (2019)

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