When I was growing up in Anaheim in the 1950s, we frequently visited Knott’s Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park. Back then, Knott’s was a homey theme park, set in a western cowboy motif. It was the only show in town until Disneyland arrived.
My brothers and I loved to watch the hourly staged train robbery at Knott’s, where the masked bad guys would rob the train of its moneybag and then go down in blaze of gunfire, carted off by the sheriff who loaded the bodies in a wheelbarrow, only to return for the next show.
Knott’s was also famous for its restaurant, where the specialties were fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and of course boysenberry pie. Over the years I’ve been curious about the origins of the berry. In the past few years I’ve noticed that more wines have a boysenberry flavor, which is unique, since the berry is a cross between a loganberry, blackberry and raspberry, which imparts a mix of tart blackberry and raspberry fruit that you find in California Pinot Noirs and occasionally Grenaches, Syrahs and Zinfandels.
Some casual research turned up the fact that Rudolph Boysen created the boysenberry in Napa, when he resided there in the 1920s. The horticulturalist later left Napa and abandoned the berry, moved to Anaheim, where he served as superintendent of parks and recreation and has a park named after him, where I played some of my best and worst baseball. But Boysen showed the then nearly-dead vines to Walter Knott, who revived the berry and named it after its founder, apparently with a capital B, and let his wife tinker with a Boysenberry pie recipe.
There are those of us who think Boysenberry deserves a capital B, to remember its creator, along the lines of Meyer lemon or McIntosh apple.
A lot of common names lose their capitalization over time, says Craig Graffin, who works for Napa County’s agricultural department. He passed this information along:
"There is an international code for botanical nomenclature that specifies how to indicate plants with scientific names -- including rules for when and when not to capitalize genus, species, cultivars, etc. The correct scientific name for boysenberry would be written Rubus deliciosus 'Boysen' (the first two words, the genus and species, being italicized -- with the genus capitalized -- and the third word, the man-made cultivar, capitalized and set off in single quotes).
Your thoughts? Capital B, or no?
Neil Koffler — New York, NY — January 7, 2008 4:33pm ET
John Wilen — Texas — January 7, 2008 4:54pm ET
John Poggemeyer — Cleveland, OH — January 7, 2008 5:40pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — January 7, 2008 5:43pm ET
John Skupny — St. Helena — January 8, 2008 1:47am ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — January 8, 2008 2:59pm ET
Mr Tom A Hughes — Keller, Tx — January 8, 2008 3:27pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — January 8, 2008 3:31pm ET
Steve Moore — San Diego, CA — January 10, 2008 1:41pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions