A plum assignment

This week’s fruit news explains everything else (and then loses its flavor)

Published January 15, 2024

Need something sweet and refreshing? We sorted through the juiciest headlines, separating the apples from the oranges, cherry-picking the latest in fruity news for you. It’s part of a complete breakfast, so let’s get to it!

Die Fledermaus? More like Dia Betermaus

Fruit bats come by their name honestly. They eat a lot of fruit—twice their body weight every day, in fact. Recently, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco have figured out just how fruit bats evolved to consume and process so much sugar without ill effects—and the research has potential implications for the 38 million Americans with diabetes. 

Study co-author Nadav Ahituv explains that people with diabetes can’t produce or detect insulin, leading to problems controlling blood sugar. Fruit bats, on the other hand, “have a genetic system that controls blood sugar without fail.” Their research showed that the fruit bat pancreas, when compared with insect-eating bats, had extra insulin-producing cells, and other genetic changes that help it process large amounts of sugar. Additionally, fruit bat kidneys have adapted to ensure the retention of vital electrolytes.

Scientists will continue to study the high sugar metabolism of fruit bats, we’re sure. In the meantime, maybe still skip that extra piece of cherry cheesecake. 


Admit it: Some time or another, you’ve tried to put a piece of fruit back on the pyramid display, only to have the entire pile come crashing down. According to a new study published in Physical Review E, a mathematical danger zone occurs when more than 10 percent of the stacked fruit is removed – and the research helps to explain the physics behind dangerous landslides and avalanches.

Using computer simulations, the scientists from Chile’s University of Antofagasta modeled fruit stacked in many different ways. Doing this, they identified situations in which a collapse would never happen, versus ones in which it would happen instantly. The midpoint between those extremes was what was important—to study the integrity of the fruit display once the fruit was removed, one at a time. Once the pile surpassed the 10% removal rate, it triggered an “avalanche.”

So next time you reach for that beautiful pear on a lopsided pear tower, take care to avoid the danger zone.

Yipes! Impermanence!

“Cherry stripe, lemon stripe, orange stripe, lime stripe! It tickles your tongue—it’s fun!” So said Yipes, the Fruit Stripe zebra mascot, in a nostalgic ad for the popular gum brand. But alas, the fruity gum won’t be tickling anyone’s tongue any longer—it’s being discontinued. Look alive, bygone-candy collectors! 

Fruit Stripe maker Ferrara, which also makes Nerds and Laffy Taffy, cites “consumer preferences and purchasing patterns” for the decision. Though the gum was iconic in its packaging and marketing, the “consumer preferences” might just be gum-chewers wanting gum that had flavor that actually lasted: On Twitter (which is called something else now) one user brought the snark, writing, “A moment of silence for a moment of flavor.” Not to be outdone, a Redditor wrote, “This is more of a letdown than chewing Fruit Stripe Gum.”

Despite being low-hanging fruit for comics, the legacy of Fruit Stripe and its corny zebra mascot will surely be missed… by somebody. Right?