1949: Fruit Collider

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Fruit Collider
The most delicious exotic fruit discovered this way is the strawberry banana. Sadly, it's only stable in puree form, so it's currently limited to yogurt and smoothies, but they're building a massive collider in Europe to search for a strawberry banana that can be eaten whole.
Title text: The most delicious exotic fruit discovered this way is the strawberry banana. Sadly, it's only stable in puree form, so it's currently limited to yogurt and smoothies, but they're building a massive collider in Europe to search for a strawberry banana that can be eaten whole.


Ponytail is suggesting that exotic new fruit can be created in a similar way to that in which exotic subatomic particles can, by smashing together more common varieties at high speed.

Particle accelerators are used to smash sub-atomic particles together at near-light speeds. This can result in a release of enough energy to produce massive exotic particles that do not exist under standard conditions. By examining the results, physicists can test theories in physics and, sometimes, unexpected consequences can force them to revise existing theories. When explaining particle accelerators to the general public, this kind of experiment is sometimes explained with a fruit analogy. For example, the University of Oxford's "Accelerate!" show says "It's like throwing together two apples really really hard and getting three bananas and a mango." In this comic strip, the analogy is taken literally, and claims that several interesting new types of fruit have been created.

Pineapples with apple skin.

The tough, spiny skin of pineapples makes them (almost) impossible to eat without a knife and, while high in fiber, can be a danger to the intestinal tract and is commonly considered inedible. Nevertheless, many people really like the taste of them. Creating a variety with the skin of an apple would allow them to be enjoyed without the usual inconvenience.

Pomegranates full of grapes.

A pomegranate is a large berry containing a large number of seeds with fleshy coverings. Many people find the high seed-to-flesh ratio offputting when eating them. If these were replaced with grapes, this ratio would be much lower; if it were a seedless variety of grape, it could be zero.

Watermelon-sized peaches.

This could be a reference to the Roald Dahl story James and the Giant Peach, or Randall may just really like peaches, as shown in 388: Fuck Grapefruit.

Strawberry banana [title text]

Strawberry and banana is a popular flavor combination for yogurts and smoothies. The "massive collider" in Europe refers to the Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator in the world. However the Large Hadron Collider was built to investigate the relationship between matter and forces[1], and not to search for a strawberry banana[citation needed].

Many fruit-based snacks and drinks will derive flavors from fruit blends. These are generally created by mixing the juice, or artificial substitute flavorings, of two separate, individual fruits, rather than by attempting to create a new fruit by smashing the constituent fruits together. Some man-made hybrid fruits have been created via cross-breeding, grafting, and genetic engineering. It is notable that fruiting plants are generally far more capable of mixing genes across species than animals are. It is often quite possible to produce a hybrid of two fairly distantly related fruits by forcing the pollen of one to fertilize the ovary of another, or even splicing the bulk of the genes together. Of course, this would be more likely to happen in a high-energy collision of their reproductive parts, rather than their fruits. Smashing two fruits together at high speeds will usually result in a sticky mess rather than a new fruit hybrid, as recognised in the title text.

It should be noted that the hypothesis presented in this strip has now been tested by The Slow Mo Guys.


[Ponytail points with a stick at a graph hanging on the wall. It depicts a collision of two apples producing a banana, a bunch of grapes, a cherry, three strawberries, and one product which is too small to distinguish clearly but which may be a single grape or berry.]
Ponytail: When two apples collide, they can briefly form exotic new fruit. Pineapples with apple skin. Pomegranates full of grapes. Watermelon-sized peaches.
Ponytail: These normally decay into a shower of fruit salad, but by studying the debris, we can learn what was produced.
Ponytail: Then, the hunt is on for a stable form.
[Caption below the panel:]
How new types of fruit are developed


Randall has previously indicated that he finds pineapple tasty but very hard to eat in 388: Fuck Grapefruit.

This comic was published on the Jewish holiday for the trees, Tu BiShvat (Hebrew: טו בשבט), on which it is traditional to eat exotic fruits.

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I propose that - for once - we keep the bot-generated text in this explanation section: "This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect." 15:41, 31 January 2018 (UTC)

+1! And Ponytail gets banned from particle physics conferences? Or her biology license is revoked. https://xkcd.com/410/ -- 16:57, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
We need to compile a blacklist for conferences people are banned from... Linker (talk) 18:36, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
Hey baby, you can still practice biology without a license... ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:39, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
.*Pepper Spray*Linker (talk) 17:16, 1 February 2018 (UTC)

I suppose it's not okay to copy and paste random portions of other articles here in hopes of creating a super explanation? 20:41, 31 January 2018 (UTC)

Does this remind anyone of Tom Scott's Piña Collider?

no but it reminds of the Higgs boson search by looking and bananas and acorn squash http://sci-ence.org/higgs/
Odds that inspired this by showing up in Randall's recommended videos? Wizardofdocs (talk) 06:34, 11 September 2021 (UTC)

There's a new-year's day for trees? This fact alone deserves its own comic! ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:44, 31 January 2018 (UTC)

A holiday =/= new-year's day - 01:25, 1 February 2018 (UTC)
If you google the jewish holiday for the trees, you will see it is actually a “new year’s day” for the trees. 12:06, 1 February 2018 (UTC)

If only, if only. Orange juice is somewhat sour, and pineapple juice cloyingly sweet, but what would the combination fruit be like? 02:54, 1 February 2018 (UTC) Gene Wirchenko [email protected]

I believe that is next on the agenda after the peanut/grape enigma is solved These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 01:50, 4 February 2018 (UTC)

This reminds me of https://what-if.xkcd.com/116/, especially title text of the last picture: "A hole bunch of strange, extremely massive drivers were created by collision, but all were extremely short-lived." 10:19, 1 February 2018 (UTC)

Is Banapple Gas an early result from the Fruit Collider? 05:39, 8 February 2018 (UTC)

The hypothesis presented in this strip has now been empirically tested by The Slow Mo Guys. 13:16, 18 March 2018 (UTC)

So apparently I'm not the only fan of The Slow Mo Guys here... Herobrine (talk) 09:25, 7 April 2018 (UTC)

A coconut with orange skin! Explodes after 12 µs (microseconds) StillNotOriginal 00:50, 21 May 2018 (UTC)

Why does the explanation say that many people " ind the high seed-to-flesh ratio offputting when eating" pomegranates, when in pomegranates the seeds are actually the tasty thing you want to eat instead of the flesh?--Lupo (talk) 17:44, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

While it's not a particle collider, we got pink grapefruit using the science of radiation gardens where they basically buried a radioactive element, planted things around it, and looked for interesting mutations. - 13:43, 13 February 2024 (UTC)

Sort of (one particular variety was developed/discovered this way). But it's a fascinating read, the art of Atomic gardening (though there's better articles about it than there). Related: Back in the '80s I got some of the tomato seeds that had been irradiated in space (foil packed to the outside of a satellite, retrieved again during the main Shuttle era), but the gardner I gave them too heard ('on the grapevine', I suppose!) that they were dangerous and got rid of them without even letting me know... 19:56, 13 February 2024 (UTC)