In June 1870, a Boston schooner skipper named Lorenzo Baker stopped at Port Morant, Jamaica, for a cargo of bamboo and some rum punch. While refreshing himself he bought—apparently with some misgiving—a load of bananas at 25¢ a bunch. The bananas were a bonanza; in the U.S. they brought $2.50 a bunch, and Captain Baker quickly went into the banana hauling business. Since then his company has grown into United Fruit Co., the world's largest banana producer and carrier (1957 sales: $342.3 million), which currently accounts for 60% of the U.S. market. United grew so large that in 1954...

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