Carrots, which originated in Afghanistan, were originally purple on the outside and yellow on the inside. First cultivated in the 7th century, for 1000 years they came in a wide range of colours - red, white, black and yellow as well as purple - but not orange.
Some of the first orange carrots were grown in 16th century Holland. Many sources assert that they were patriotically bred to match the colour of the Dutch Royal House of Orange, though we can't find firsthand evidence for this possibly apocryphal tale.
Even today, not all carrots are orange. There are white, yellow, dark red and purple varieties of carrot.
The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.
In the Second World War, the Allies plotted to spike Hitler's carrots with female hormones to make him less aggressive.
There is a Carrot Museum in Belgium. The Carrot Club and Carrot Museum are in Berlotte, a tiny village near Eynatten in eastern Belgium.
The museum, which is too small to get into, is housed inside the tower of a disused electricity sub-station, and can be viewed through a window. By turning a wheel outside, you can rotate the display. The tower has a carrot weather-vane, carrot clock and carrot light.
The world's longest carrot was recorded in 1996 and measured 5.14 metres.
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
In the reign of James I, it became the fashion for ladies to use Wild Carrot flowers, leaves and stalks to decorate their hair, hats, dresses and coats. This was especially fashionable during the autumn months when the leaves took on a reddish colour.
After completing a certain sequence of mathematical sums and then being asked to name a vegetable, 98% of people will say carrot.
Carotenemia is an illness caused by the consumption of too many carrots. Its most obvious symptom is orange skin.
The man in the moon drinks claret,
But he is a dull Jack-a-dandy;
Would he know a sheep's head from a Carrot
He should learn to drink cider & brandy.
Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, loathed carrots. Nevertheless, he still had to chew them during recordings as no other vegetable produced the desired crunch.
In his autobiography That's Not All, Folks!: My Life in the Golden Age of Cartoons & Radio (1988), he wrote:
‘I found it impossible to chew, swallow, and be ready to say my next line. We tried substituting other vegetables, including apples and celery, but with unsatisfactory results. The solution was to stop recording so that I could spit out the carrot into a wastebasket and then proceed with the script. In the course of a recording session I usually went through enough carrots to fill several. Bugs Bunny did for carrots what Popeye the Sailor did for Spinach. How many lip-locked, head-swelling children were coerced into eating their carrots by mothers cooing, "but Bugs Bunny eats HIS carrots"? If only they had known.’
The ‘carrot-on-a-stick’ was the officially promoted alternative to ice-lollies during the Second World War - a move caused by sugar shortages due to the German blockade of shipping.
By 1941, the British government had a surplus of 10 million carrots and they weren’t above telling some white lies to get people to eat more. In 1941 they launched the cartoon character ‘Dr Carrot’, who carried a suitcase bearing the logo Vit-A. He was the ‘guardian of health’ and the ‘children’s best friend’.
RAF officer John Cunningham was known as ‘Cats-eye Cunningham’; his 604 squadron operated at night and the British government used ‘Dr Carrot’ to encourage rumours that he could see in the dark because he ate so many carrots. This was deliberate disinformation designed to cover up the fact that Cunningham was testing the newly developed airborne radar system. It seems unlikely the Germans were taken in, but it helped persuade a generation of English children to eat up all the spare carrots. Eating lots of carrots doesn’t, in fact, make you see in the dark; you need enough vitamin A for low-light vision, but consuming a surplus is a bit like pouring water into a glass that’s already full.
But the carrot glut continued and they soon started to overdo the propaganda. Carrots became ‘these Bright treasures dug from the good British earth’. A 1941 recipe for Carrot Flan – ‘reminds you of Apricot Flan – but has a deliciousness all of its own’ – fooled no one. Even worse was ‘Carrolade’ a sweet drink made from carrot and swede juice. And carrot jam and carrot marmalade failed to find their way on to the British breakfast table.
Galen, the famous 2nd Century Roman physician, recommended carrots for expelling wind.
The Spanish word for carrot, zanahoria, also means nerd.
Howard Hughes measured every carrot he ate.
Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot.