The Mysterious Honeybell Gift Box

honeybells box.jpg
Laine Doss
Honeybells -- by the boxload.
Last Friday, the FedEx guy came by my house with a rather large box from Cushman's Fruit. As I signed for it, I noted that it was addressed to my husband, so I left it unopened.

When he came home, I told him someone sent him fruit. We opened the box to find no gift card, no sender name (on box or inside). "Someone sent you grapefruit? But we live in Florida," I said.
"Must be Stanley," my husband replied. Stanley is his stepfather, who lives in Pennsylvania. Each year, we send him oranges or something else tropical as a friendly reminder that he has to shovel snow and we don't. 

Turns out, they aren't grapefruits at all. The three dozen oversized fruits are Honeybells, a seedless hybrid of Dancy tangerines and Duncan grapefruits. These natural mutants were discovered in 1945 by a farmer who sold the first batch to Ed Cushman, who ran a gift shop and fruit packing plant in West Palm Beach. Cushman started selling the strange fruit, which is harvested only once a year, in December and January. 

Although Honeybells are part grapefruit and grafted onto sour orange tree stock, they're extremely sweet, seedless, and juicy. Very, very juicy.

honeybell sliced.jpg
Laine Doss
Hey, that's one juicy fruit!
In fact, the Honeybells come packed with bibs resembling those that come with lobsters in tacky seaside restaurants. I immediately threw out the bibs with the packing material and wish I hadn't. The Honeybells are heavy with juice, making them resemble a water balloon more than an orange. Cutting into the golden flesh, I immediately got juice in my eye. And all over my iPhone case. The only way to eat them is over the sink, the sticky juice running down your chin and elbows. I suppose like mangoes, eating them in the bathtub would also work.

The taste is that of an orange on steroids -- and no hint of grapefruit (which actually would have been welcome).

So, we have about two dozen more Honeybells to go. And they're large. If anyone has any suggestions on what to do with them (besides the obvious juicing and eating), please let me know.

Oh, and turns out they weren't a present from my husband's stepfather and the sender remains a mystery. So if you recently gifted our household with a box of Honeybells -- thank you for the mystery fruit!

If you want to try some Honeybells yourself, the Cushman family still sells them from their gift shop in West Palm Beach, or you can order them online. But hurry -- it's already January.

Cushman's, 3325 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-965-3535.

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My Voice Nation Help

I'm jealous! I got a mystery heirloom doctored apple box awhile back, sans razor blades.

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

I'll save you some!  There's plenty to go around. I can't even eat a whole fruit in one sitting.

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