Buddha, Guy de Maupassant & Fruit That's Shaped Like People

Baby Buddha Pears


When the latest issue of Mental Floss arrived in our mailbox, I was less than enthused. It was billed as "The Money Issue." Yuck, I thought, finances. (Not my favorite topic.)

Five minutes into it, however, I was laughing hard. As usual, the magazine was hilarious. My favorites?

  • a cookbook of invasive species to eat during the hard times,
  • an article about how monkeys compare to stockbrokers in their investment strategies (Guess what, monkeys are definitely competitive!) and
  • a small column about a Chinese farmer who's making a fortune selling Buddha-shaped pears.

It was the latter story that really made me think—about all sorts of things.

"What I remember most is that other people called me crazy."

Mental Floss, the Magazine

Mental Floss
Mental Floss

It's not The Daily Show, but every page is "a moment of Zen."


Could I too amass a fortune from fruit?

First, my mind touched upon domestic topics.

  • Where could I find a good Baked Baby Buddha Pear recipe? And would it be inappropriate to serve it with fig sauce and baked brie shaped like a tree?
  • Hao Xianzhang, the Chinese farmer, covered his young pears in plastic Buddha-shaped molds and let them develop for 6 months. If I encased the pears in our yard within molds shaped like angry faces, would the frightening fruit scare pesky deer and squirrels away? Could I hull the little pears out like jack-o-lanterns? Would they become the latest thing?
  • And then I thought about money. Hao Xianzhang was making a fortune selling his Buddha pears at $7 a pop. Perhaps I could amass millions by marketing DIY fruit molding kits online!

And then, because I have no idea how to make molds or run a business, my mind drifted to Guy de Maupassant.

Recollections of Guy De Maupassant: [1912]
Recollections of Guy De Maupassant: [1912]

Includes an account of Maupassant's head molding experience--and that of his brother. (It was less successful.)


A horrible suspicion that your brains are coming out of your ears.

When French short story writer extraordinaire Guy de Maupassant was born, it was all the rage in France to mold the heads of infants into fruit shapes. Guy's parents chose the apple.

Later in life, Maupassant suffered bouts of insanity. He had an odd feeling that his brains were coming out of his ears.

More Fruity Books

Naturally, thoughts of Maupassant and the farmer Hao Xianzhang inevitably led me to literary masterpieces served with a helping of fruit. Hao Xianzhang was inspired to create his baby Buddha fruit by the classic Chinese mythological novel Journey to the West. Based on Chinese folktales, the novel features baby fruit that gives the eater immortality.

But Journey to the West isn't the only literary masterpiece that features fruit.

  • Paradise Lost: John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost seeks to "justify the ways of God to man" by retelling the story of Adam and Eve. How successful is he? Let's just say that Lucifer is by far the most interesting character in the book--at least to me. In Milton's version, the serpent tempts Eve with an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. According to him, God actually wants her to disobey him by eating it!
  • Lord of the Flies: In William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, the stranded boys survive on fruit--when they're not eating beasts (or becoming beasts themselves).
  • The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck's novel about the Joad family, "Okies" who leave the Dust Bowl in search of work in California, is a veritable fruit salad! In my favorite scene, starving Okies watch as farmers destroy their fruit crops in order to drive prices up. As they watch, "In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage." That's right--a social revolution!

There are probably lots of other fruity books out there. If you can think of more, I'd love to hear about them.

Coming Soon to a Fruit Stand Near You?

Farmer Hao Xianzhang plans to grow Charlie Chaplin-shaped pears for export to the U.S.
Farmer Hao Xianzhang plans to grow Charlie Chaplin-shaped pears for export to the U.S. | Source

What's next?

Hoa Xianzhang plans to market fruit shaped like Charlie Chaplin to U.S. customers. (Why Chaplin is anybody's guess.) And that makes me wonder what other things will come of this fruit shaping business.

Maybe it will turn into a sort of gardening performance art with green-thumbed, would-be Christos and Jeanne-Claudes creating fields of baby fruit in interesting shapes. In homage to Warhol, artist-farmers could create orchards full of little green Marilyn Monroes.

Fruit shaped like people?! It's way cooler than bobbleheads--and more nutritious. Politicians could actually serve themselves at fund-raising dinners! In suburban yards, home gardeners could fashion their pears into Mom, Dad, the kids--even the family pet! (To match the stickers on their minivans).

Why not? Art, fruit, fun--it's good for everybody.

Thanks, Hoa Xianzhang!

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Comments 18 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

I don't know, FlourshAnyway, but the anticipation gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Thanks for stopping by! --Jill

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The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for reading, livingsta. Appreciate it! --Jill

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

This is so unusual. Charlie Chaplin looks too much like a "friendly" Hitler. He should try Mickey Mouse instead and sell them to Disney. What will people think of next?

livingsta profile image

livingsta 3 years ago from United Kingdom

This was an interesting read. I have also read articles about people doing this with watermelons, I think the square ones. Thank you for sharing this with us.

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hey Georgia Gal! Thanks for reading. Hope you have a great day, too. --Jill

georgialgal1984 profile image

georgialgal1984 3 years ago from United States

Wow! What a fun read and neat idea! Thanks for the entertainment this morning. Hope you day is great!

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

If only, Derdriu! Pears shaped like the saints, the Pope, crucifix pears on cranberry beads.... Am I treading into the blasphemous? Thanks for reading! J

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Derdriu 5 years ago

TheDirtFarmer: Thank you for a brisk, charming, funny article about Buddha-shaped pears! The pears look as appealing as they are costly, and undoubtedly profitable for HX. Is it possible that this craze will take off with entrepreneurial-minded members of other religions?

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

@ Chanroth--Yeh, I see what you mean! Better wait for the Charlie Chaplin pear! Take care & thanks for reading, DF

chanroth profile image

chanroth 5 years ago from California, USA

Wow...I never seen this before. I probably wouldn't eat it but just look at it.I could not eat my Buddha. LOL

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for reading, tonymac04 & Sally's Trove! Have a great day. (I think, Tony, that you're supposed to bite the head off first--with your eyes closed.)

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Reading this article was a great way to start my day! I'm having a fresh peach for breakfast; sadly, it's in the traditional shape of a peach; happily, it didn't cost me seven dollars. I think you are just as creative as Hoa Xianzhang. Perhaps a partnership could be explored? :)

Voted up, funny, and interesting.

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Ha ha! Really enjoyable read. Not sure I could eat a Buddha-shaped pear - I have trouble enough with chocolate Easter bunnies! LOL!

Love and peace


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, Miss Mellie. You know, fashion trends always seem to cycle through, so head molding should be making a comeback soon. Maybe it'll replace tattooing. Always good to hear from you! Take care, Jill

Miss Mellie profile image

Miss Mellie 5 years ago

First off, you win, hands-down, for most interest-piquing article title. Secondly, wow, what a clever marketing concept! Third, that tidbit about molding infants' heads into fruit shapes was something I had never heard of before. Fashion trends always seem to bring out unique ideas, eh? Voted Up, Funny and Interesting!

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Hadn't thought of that, homesteadbound. I guess they'd look like shrunken heads! Creepy. Thanks for commenting--and you too, deskjockywriter. I don't think the technology itself (the plastic mold) is expensive, but it does sound a bit labor intensive and lengthy. And I'm with you. Why Chaplin? Thanks for stopping by!


deskjockywriter profile image

deskjockywriter 5 years ago from Muncie, Indiana

He has a great idea I want to invest. Would make a lot more money if he made peard shaped like Mother Teresa not Charlie Chaplin. or even charlie Brown or other cartoon characters. Why do the chinees have this technology and not us? I think this is a great way to distinguish your self from the competition. This is very smart people will buy for the novelty of the fruit but I think if he can figure out how to mass produce fruits this way we could get the cost down and still provide a quality healthy fruit that might just extend my life..

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

I would never pay $7.00 for a fruit, no matter what shape it was in. Just give it a few weeks and it'll be in really bad shape. Shrivelled!

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