Ironies and Onion Rings: The Layered Story of the Vidalia Onion

The Vidalia Onion Museum in Vidalia, Georgia. Photo by Tyler Pratt.

If you know and love the Vidalia onion—an onion sweet enough, its fans say, to eat like an apple—you likely also know it as a product of Georgia, as proudly claimed as the peach. But the story of the Vidalia’s popularity is far more complex than just one of a local onion made good. In this episode of Gravy: an onion’s success story, born of clever marketing, government wrangling, technological innovation and global trade.

This episode was co-produced with Gravy’s intern, Tyler Pratt.

An onion field in South Georgia. Photo by Tyler Pratt.
An onion field in South Georgia. Photo by Tyler Pratt.

Here is Tore Olsson’s paper on the Vidalia Onion: “Peeling Back the Layers: Vidalia Onions and the Making of a Global Agribusiness.” To learn more about Tore Olsson, go here.

Delbert Bland with boxes of his farm's sweet onions. Photo by Tyler Pratt.
Delbert Bland with boxes of his farm’s sweet onions. Photo by Tyler Pratt.

You can check out Bland Farms here.

The original ad for sweet onions that Delbert Bland placed in Southern Living. Photo by Tyler Pratt.
The original ad for sweet onions that Delbert Bland placed in Southern Living. Photo by Tyler Pratt.
Onions at Bland Farms. Photo by Tyler Pratt.
Onions at Bland Farms. Photo by Tyler Pratt.

There is a Vidalia Onion Museum in Vidalia, Georgia, which you can learn more about here.

Vidalia, Georgia is proud of its onions. Photo by Tyler Pratt.
Vidalia, Georgia is proud of its onions. Photo by Tyler Pratt.