SOURCE: Dole Food Company

Dole Food Company

June 27, 2011 08:00 ET

Dole Names Jacksonville a 2011 "Top Banana City"

Go Bananas After Dark™ Tour Arrives on the First Coast to Celebrate City's Love Affair With World's Most Popular Fruit

JACKSONVILLE, FL--(Marketwire - Jun 27, 2011) - Jacksonville residents are passionate about their bananas -- so much so that the world's largest banana provider has named the city a "Top Banana City" and included it in a summer tour designed to encourage new uses for America's favorite fruit.

The 2011 Go Bananas After Dark™ Tour (http://www.dole.com/bananas) stops in Jacksonville this week during the second year of a summer-long initiative by Dole to challenge the notion of America's favorite fruit as a breakfast and lunch food only.

Conceived by Dole Fresh Fruit, a subsidiary of Dole Food Company, Inc., the world's largest provider of fresh bananas, the tour offers banana lovers in Florida and throughout the country fun, intriguing new ways to enjoy the iconic fruit for dinner, dessert, in alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails and as a unique addition to their summer backyard barbecue parties.

"Most Floridians wouldn't even think of a breakfast or lunch without bananas," explained David Bright, vice president of marketing for Dole Fresh Fruit. "In fact, this devotion has made bananas the top-selling item in grocery stores, enjoyed in more than 96 percent of American homes. Yet, even some of the most ardent banana fans aren't aware of the amazing things you can do with bananas on the grill and as a healthier dessert indulgence."

As a "Top Banana City," Jacksonville has been singled out by Dole for significant local advertising, online, PR and retailer activities to encourage the city's disproportionately large percentage of banana-loving residents to widen their banana horizons even further.

This week, Dole representatives are also honoring those local restaurants and bars that push the commonly accepted boundaries of banana cuisine. Dole will also work with local registered dieticians (RDs), food bloggers and other local food influencers to educate residents about bananas through public appearances, and sampling and tasting events.

Second Annual "After Dark" Program

The 2011 Go Bananas After Dark™ Tour represents an expanded version of last year's inaugural effort. When special 2010 banana-focused programs in New Orleans and elsewhere proved more successful than expected at encouraging consumption of the fruit after the sun goes down, Dole executives knew they had a hit on their hands.

"The public's response to last summer's grilled bananas test in New Orleans alone was staggering," explained David Bright, vice president of marketing for Dole Fresh Fruit. "Once we showed them how easy grilled bananas can be, even the most die-hard barbecue enthusiasts starting looking at bananas in a whole new light."

Other 2011 tour stops include Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Montreal, among others. A partnership with Six Flags will also put grilled DOLE Bananas on the menus at theme parks across the country.

A featured element of this year's program is an expanded Go Bananas After Dark recipe library -- now including not only grilled banana entrees and side dishes but also banana-themed desserts and alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. Featured recipes range from Grilled Bananas Foster and Teriyaki Pork Chops with Grilled Bananas to Tropical Breeze Banana Panini, Banana Hazelnut Dessert Wontons and five exotic, banana-laced cocktails that can be enjoyed with or without alcohol.

"Bananas are one of the few genuine summertime treats that provide considerable health benefits," Bright said. "In addition to qualifying as an excellent source of vitamins B6 and C and a good source of potassium and dietary fiber, they can provide the natural sweetness for some surprisingly indulgent desserts."

For more information on DOLE Bananas, including recipes, serving suggestions and nutritional information, go to www.dole.com/bananas or www.facebook.com/dolebananas.

About Dole Foods
Dole, with 2010 net revenues of $6.9 billion, is the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, and is the leading producer of organic bananas. Dole markets a growing line of packaged and frozen fruit and is a produce industry leader in nutrition education and research.

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