I’ve yet to watch Call Me by Your Name — no, you carve 132 minutes out of your day to have emotions — but I do know a single thing about it: There’s peach-fucking. Like, Timothée Chalamet uses a peach to masturbate, and then the peach is full of jizz. Of course men couldn’t wait to try this; in fact, it totally works. And what a far cry this stylized bit of erotica is from the titular scene of American Pie, now 20 years old, in which a dad catches his teen boy penetrating an apple pastry. It’s farther still from Philip Roth’s lust-ridden Portnoy jerking off into a piece of liver back in 1969. There’s no two ways about it: Fruit is the future of food horniness.
If you doubt me, take a glance at pretty much any print advertisement. We’re salivating for this.
Humans have long associated fruits with friskiness, as evidenced by the band Squeeze and 17th-century dirty novels. But today’s cultural climate has reinforced this idea from every angle. One big contributor is emojis. Lots of these ideographs are made to take on double meanings; the emoji library is finite, after all, and lacking in ways to represent, for example, sexuality. Produce, however, is ideally suited for that conversation. It’s not only the iconically dick-equivalent eggplants — did you know those are fruits, not vegetables, and technically berries?!?! — but the bananas, cherries, strawberries and peaches that suggest a healthy arousal. The red chili pepper, also a fruit, adds some spice to the proceedings. There’s something about these bright, simple, colorful shapes that evokes the natural wholesomeness of gettin’ it on. Would you sext someone using hot dog and taco emojis? I’d be cautious there. Just seems kinda… messy.
Then again, mess is fun, too, and fruit is happy to help out there as well. A few years ago, the multimedia artist Stephanie Sarley exploded onto Instagram with juicy photos and videos of fingered or otherwise sexualized fruit — now she has nearly half a million followers and an eye-popping résumé of museum exhibitions. The concept is so popular that Sarley often has to fend off plagiarists, up to and including notorious horndog Miley Cyrus, who this summer promoted an EP release with undeniably similar fruit porn, and failed to credit her.
In contrast to the clean lines and surfaces of emoji fruit, the real-world objects appeal as oozing and fleshy, rude or coy. They have personality, in other words. Like human genitalia, no two clementines are exactly the same, and their slurpable innards are titillating in a way that cleverly circumvents rules around graphic content on social media. The same is true of those ad campaigns where fruit stands in for cocks and assorted orifices: It’s brazen seduction that’s safe for public view.
And where marketers once used the promise of sex to hawk, say, cancer-causing cigarettes, they now play to a more health-conscious population. Fruit is a convenient symbol for the connection between treating your body well and the reproductive act, even if you have no intention of, um, bringing it to complete fruition. Fruit is attractive in the sense that it represents a beautiful symbiosis of our species and the plant kingdom.
When you get right down to it, though, there’s no need to over-intellectualize what’s often a basic, juvenile response. We delight in finding fruit that closely resembles our intimate bits. Fruit prints and patterns have a way of hinting at ripeness and sticky pleasure. People are drawn to different flavors as they are to different partners. But perhaps most importantly — thanks to a little book called the Bible — fruit will always have us entertaining the thrills of taboo and temptation. It’s hot to be forbidden.
The only question is, where’s left for fruit to go at this point? It’s gotten us off so many times, you worry the aphrodisiac effect may wear off someday. Yet the memes, movies, lifestyle branding and emojis have made it all but inseparable from our primal urges, to an unprecedented degree. This really must be the peak of fruit’s fuckability.
Enjoy it while you can — before you know it, some graphic designer may be trying to get you horny about spinach. And then we’ll have to look back on content like this incredible video, asking ourselves where we went astray.