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The Naartjie

What is a naartjie and where did it come from?

I thought I would take some time to educate my fellow Americans about the naartjie. Why? Because I'm a nerd and a dork and that is what I do best.

I served a mission in South Africa from 1996-1998. There they had these little oranges that were so much easier to peel - which made them so much more delightful to eat.

Before my mission, I had never seen them in the states. I asked a few missionaries about them and some said they had and said they were referred to as mandarin oranges, tangerines, or even clementines. The only mandarin oranges I knew about was those in the can and they were pretty much the same size as a peeled naartjie.

Even since I've been home I haven't seen them much. Maybe it's just because I don't look, or maybe they were not that popular in Utah.

A couple of years ago there appeared a new store in our local mall called Naartjie. It's a children's clothing store (Now, unfortunately bankrupt) and my wife was a big fan. I can't remember how she mangled her pronunciation of the name, but I corrected her and explained what a naartjie is.

Well, this Christmas, naartjies seem to be everywhere! Friends and family are giving them to us in boxes like they are a new invention and telling us how wonderful they are and easy to peel. So obviously I haven't been the only one that hasn't noticed them in the past right?

Well, last night my mom gave us a box of them and as my wife and sister in law were talking my wife referred to one as a naartjie. My sister in law had not heard the term obviously and wondered where that name came from. Since my wife considers most of the things I teach her as nerdy, unnecessary information to retain, she couldn't remember where she heard that name. I was watching a football game and so I wasn't there to expound my wisdom, but I did hear them ask my brother, who served a mission in Spain what the Spanish word for orange was. When he said naranja, I figured out what they were talking about. I remember thinking about that cognate when I first heard the word naartjie in South Africa. I did take 2 years of Spanish in Jr. High. I don't remember much, but for some odd reason I did remember the word for orange. That's when I dispersed my highly coveted knowledge of what a naartjie is.

And now you know.

But what I would like to know is, where did the word "Orange" come from?

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Dustin Davis

Dustin Davis is a software engineer, people manager, hacker, and entreprenuer. He loves to develop systems and automation. He lives with his wife and five kids in Utah.

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Dustin Davis