The pistachio has a long and interesting history. Native to the Middle East, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees. Recent archeological evidence in Turkey suggests that humans were enjoying them as early as 7,000 B.C. Flourishing in hot climates, pistachios spread from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, quickly becoming a treasured delicacy among royalty, travelers and common folk alike.

Legend has it that the Queen of Sheba decreed pistachios an exclusively royal food, going so far as to forbid commoners from growing the nut for personal use. Nebuchadnezzar, the ancient king of Babylon, had pistachio trees planted in his fabled hanging gardens. And in the first century A.D., the Emperor Vitellius debuted this prized nut in his capital city of Rome.

According to Moslem legend, the pistachio nut was one of the foods brought to Earth by Adam.The pistachio has been used as a dyeing agent and a folk remedy for ailments ranging from toothaches to sclerosis of the liver. The pistachio’s high nutritional value and long storage life also made it an indispensable travel item among early explorers and traders. Along with almonds, pistachios were frequently carried by travelers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the West.

Pistachios are biblical. They are mentioned in the Old Testament in Genesis 43:11, and are one of only two nuts mentioned in Scripture. The other nut mentioned is the almond. And, according to Moslem legend, the pistachio nut was one of the foods brought to Earth by Adam.

Pistachios are happy. They are called “the smiling nut” in Iran and “the happy nut” in China. People in the Middle East sometimes refer to the pistachio as the “smiling pistachio.” In those same countries, if you are sitting under a Pistachio tree and you hear the shells snapping open, it is a sign of good luck.

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