Go to any produce section and pick up an avocado. More often than not, you’ll be holding a Hass avocado — a variety that accounts for 80 percent of the fruit produced commercially worldwide and which has a unique connection to USPS.
This particular avocado was patented by a former postal employee — Letter Carrier Rudolph Hass of Pasadena, CA — who died Oct. 24, 1952. During the 1920s, Hass read an article that included an illustration of an avocado tree with dollar bills hanging from its branches. Hass was intrigued by the idea of making money from the fruit, especially since his starting wage at the Post Office was 60 cents an hour.
Hass purchased seeds from a customer and planted them in a small grove he purchased in La Habra Heights. As the seeds sprouted and grew into trees, he hired a professional to graft cuttings from existing trees onto the strongest seedlings. They soon produced large, luscious fruit with a dark, pebbly skin — unlike avocados previously grown.
In 1935, Hass received a patent for his tree. As word spread about his avocados, other growers began to buy “bud wood” from the letter carrier for grafting onto other trees.
Eventually, this single parent tree became the source for a new product. Today, with sales of more than $1 billion in the U.S. alone, the Hass variety dominates the avocado world.