Pineapple’s exotic appearance and sweet flavor made it very desirable for Europe’s high society in the 16th-18th century. However, this South-American native fruit is difficult to grow in Europe and was only available by import. To make things worse, only the fastest ships with the wind at their backs could make it on time while it was still edible.
As we all know, when Mr. Short Supply meets Lady High Demand prices soar. Pineapple economics is no exception and soon enough pineapples became a symbol of wealth.
Indeed, back then, only the extremely rich – namely high nobles – could afford to buy the fruit, while the “just” very-rich had to settle for renting it. The latter would usually show it off at parties before returning it to the person who could actually afford to eat it.
Bonus facts: In those times, serving a pineapple cake upside-down was a social code to hint a guest that he or she overstayed their welcome.