Why Are Carrots Orange? It’s Actually Politics

We can hear you asking, is the Infographics
Show really going to do a show on a vegetable? Have those guys run out of ideas? What next, a video on the origins of a potato? Actually, potatoes do have an interesting
history, but we won’t bother you with that today. What we will say is that carrots have a past
like no other vegetable, and the reason why you have orange-colored ones today is a story
steeped in politics, religion, violence, and revolution. Next time you grab hold of one of those bright
hunks of delicious root, remember people, carrots have come a long way from their rather
ugly beginning. Before we touch on the bloody matter of revolution,
let’s first tell you a bit about carrots. You see, this is a root vegetable, meaning
it grows under the ground. You don’t get many bright and vivid-colored
veggies growing underground, and carrots used to be the same dull color as most other root
vegetables. Just like the turnip, or parsnip, they used
to be white. We are told that carrots contain more genes
than humans do, about 32,000. Two of the recessive genes help build up something
called carotenoids in the carrot, and it’s these chemical compounds that help give carrots
their color. You can trace old school carrots back to Iran
and Afghanistan, back when they were white, but then 1,100 years ago purple and yellow
carrots made an appearance on the vegetable scene. They were still a bit dark and ugly though,
not anything like the beautiful orange ones we see today. But then in the 17th century those kinds of
carrots would be mostly rubbed from history, and orange would rule the fields. For this, you can thank the Dutch. This is where the violence and revolution
comes in. You see, in the Netherlands from the 16th
century there was a ruling dynasty called the House of Orange-Nassau. These folks belonged to the house of…you
guessed it…”Orange.” We think you might now understand why orange
was a popular color. The name Orange by the way comes from French
lands which William I of the dynasty inherited, and so he became William I of Orange. This house revolted against Spanish rule,
and this led to the 80 Years War. The two opposing kingpins at the start were
the Orange dynasty and Philip II of Spain. Those Orange guys won in the end, and this
led to a Dutch Independent state. It’s thought in all about 600,000–700,000
people died, but this also included other countries joining to fight the Spanish Empire
which were England, Scotland and France. At the time all over Europe there had been
the rise of Protestantism, and the orange dynasty allied with a bunch of Protestant
families from Western Europe to fight the Spanish Catholics. We now might remember that over in England
relations between Catholic and Protestants were tense indeed, and if you’ve seen our
punishment shows you’ll know many people on both sides lost their heads, and sometimes
legs. What you need to know is that the rise of
Protestantism in Europe since Mr. Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” containing the
need to reform wicked Catholic rule, was an extremely violent and paranoid time. William III of orange became a center figure
and the most famous William from the Orange dynasty. Even now in Ireland you have “Orange Protestants”
that you might see walking through the streets and celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day. Orange is also in the flag, we are sure you
know. What we are trying to say is that orange was
a really, really big deal. It was a representation of ethos, power, beliefs. What eventually happened in England was an
invasion by William III, and the upshot of that was orange Bill becoming King of England
after marrying King James’ daughter. William was quite the man, and England was
never the same again. So, not surprisingly William was celebrated
in the Netherlands, and what better way to show praise for someone by coloring a vegetable
after them. If you have a powerful dynasty you have of
course have to hang on to it, and that requires a good bit of public relations. Prior to the veggie transformation the ruling
members of the family would paint houses orange, plant orange trees everywhere, and they even
built castles with names such as Oranjewoud, Oranienstein, Oranienburg, and Oranienbaum. While the Rolling Stones years later would
want to paint the world black, the Dutch at the time tried to give everything a touch
of orange. During this period the Dutch were known, the
farmers at least, as formidable carrot growers. And those farmers came up with a way to make
orange carrots, something for the world to behold. What they did was cultivate carrots with higher
amounts of beta carotene in them. They called this the royal carrot. Now, we must tell you here that some critics
say the Dutch weren’t the first to grow orange carrots, and they were around in the
Roman Empire. Others will tell you that wild carrots just
got together in their white, yellow and purple hues and some babies popped out orange. What is definitely a fact though, is that
the Dutch farmers ran with their orange carrot and never looked back. At first such glorious carrots were said to
be a royal treat, but soon most of the Netherlands and the rest of Europe wanted only the shiny
orange ones. The rest were just ignored, like that ugly
duckling you’ve heard about. As one historian writes, the orange carrot
became a kind of brand for the dynasty, and it was very exportable. A different historian writes, “The Dutch
started growing this in great abundance in tribute to William of Orange to such a degree
that almost all other forms of carrot had gone out of mass agricultural production…in
this very roundabout way our carrots are orange because our oranges are orange, and they’ve
been that way for political reasons.” These days all you seem to see are this orange
variety, and of course now we don’t hold them or eat them with a sense of Protestant
pride, as a kind of worship for William. William, or King Billy as he might have affectionately
been known to some Scots or Northern Irish, had quite the illustrious life. You might not know that he is the last person
ever to successfully invade that tough little country called England. You may not also know that the Big Apple,
aka, New York City, used to be called New Orange. That’s because the Dutch changed the name
when they recaptured it from Britain. This was just more marketing from the Dutch,
who wanted to show just how strong Billy and his armies were. It didn’t last long, and the English city
of York soon started to figure in the USA again. Still, we wonder if you knew that New York
and carrots have quite a close connection in that they were both part of a public relations
strategy of the once mighty Dutch. William didn’t have a heroic death, though. His horse ran over a mole’s burrow and tripped. Bill fell off, breaking his collarbone. Healthcare wasn’t exactly modern back then
and this break led to complications including pneumonia, and this was the end of William. So, next time you pick up a carrot you can
be proud of holding some big slice of history in your hand.

  1. You know, I don't always watch your videos but for some reason, I sat through this one in its entirety…

  2. How can a Carrot grow without a seed? 🤔It can't just randomly grow out of no where. Unless carrots are hybrid vegetables made by man. 🤷🏾‍♂️

  3. How do you release a video the day after the orange men march but get it mixed up for st patricks day? No orangemen marches on st patricks, 12th of july it is!

  4. Carrots are secretly the government’s way of spying on your diet

    or the bunnies are the aliens

  5. dutch lady sitting in front of laptop lets watch video about why carrot orange. its originally dutch. me….. not again why is it always my country that comes up with something funny. well ive learned something new lol. love the way dutch words are pronounced oraaaanje nasauuuuu. lol

  6. 2:12 I just think it's pretty important to note that while France certainly had large numbers of protestant huguenots and Calvinists, France was most definitely a Catholic state. The conflict in Europe in this time centred more so on Habsburgs Vs anti-habsburgs than on religion hence why the French and British were rare allies in this case 🙂

  7. Orangemen don't march on st. Patrick's Day, (they wouldn't dare), they march on 12th of July (and for about 2 months either side of it) a few inaccuracies in this video but you're American, we'll let it slide

  8. Nobody wears orange here on St Patrick's day, you would be murdered. Catholicism and The Orange Order are mutually exclusive

  9. that's interesting…in India, carrots been red since anybody remembers…and we thought that orange carrots are genetically modified ones…and I believe daily household consumption has been reduced after introduction of orange carrots in India…
    this is my opinion, and I might be wrong.

  10. I don't understand how some people can't dislike carrots. I used to have a friend who said she didn't lie carrots. It baffled me to no end.

  11. The orange carrots are vitamin deficient when compared to the purple and other colors. We find purple carrots at our local farmer's markets. Yummy.

  12. So this dude died because his horse tripped over a hole..

    Top 10 anime betrayals
    Top 10 anime plot twist endings

  13. As a Dutchie I always thought the origin of orange carrots were weird…
    Also I like to hear how he pronounces dutch words

  14. Mom why are carrots orange
    Because they did war with the beets for orange and with humans for colour
    Carrot tank attack actually toy tank firing bbs

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