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Many label collector's frown at Chiquita labels, largely because of their long-standing uniformity. But no banana company has a longer, more fascinating history than this decendent of the old United Fruit Company. Historically UFCO had somewhat of a split personality. It pioneered development in many parts of tropical America, built railroads, provided model company towns and quality health care, established schools and agricultural research centers, and provided full-time employment to thousands. On the other hand, it cultivated dictators, bought politicians, suppressed unions, and became a monopoly in the U.S. market to the extent that anti-trust action eventually forced it to sell off part of its empire.

Today's Chiquita is not the all-powerful company of old, but it is still viewed with suspicion by many. When Chiquita celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1999, it issued special commemorative labels for the occasion. They were widely used on fruit in Europe, but never made it into the U.S. market-- an apparent management reaction to bad publicity following a Cincinnati newspaper expose.

The E.C.- W.T.O. controversy mentioned above also led to one of the strangest banana labels ever seen-- a French-language protest label that was illegally placed on Chiquita fruit in Belgium (and possibly elsewhere) by local activists.