How the Sicilian Mafia got started : The Indicator from Planet Money The essential ingredient in the birth of the mafia as we know it wasn't the threats or the murders or the other stuff that's great for Hollywood. It was...lemons.
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When Life Gives You Lemons...Start The Mafia?

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When Life Gives You Lemons...Start The Mafia?

When Life Gives You Lemons...Start The Mafia?

When Life Gives You Lemons...Start The Mafia?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/931795250/931807528" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Garry Hogg/Getty Images
The lemon harvest in Sicily, circa 1970. (Photo by Garry Hogg/Getty Images)
Garry Hogg/Getty Images

Whenever you think of the Mafia, what comes to mind? You might think of movies like The Godfather, TV characters like Tony Soprano, or infamous historical figures like Al Capone.

You probably won't think of lemons. But it so happens that the oval yellow fruit was central to the creation of the Mafia, when it originated in Sicily in the late 1800s.

In this episode, The Indicator looks at the importance of scurvy and citrus in the origin story of La Cosa Nostra.

Music: "Head of The Family".