There are many unfounded superstitions within the military. Some of the most well-known include:
- Don’t eat Charms candy.
- Don’t whistle on a Navy vessel.
- Pilots will not take off without receiving a thumbs up.
Many of these superstitions have traceable roots that run back to when someone did something, and terrible results followed. There is seldom any empirical evidence behind the practices. To that end, Marines and Marine Veterans from all eras and battlefields will all attest to one fruit being such bad luck that even uttering its name will cause them to freak out.
This fruit is the apricot.
Most American military troops stay away from apricots. Significantly, contributors to this superstition are Marine tankers and Marines on Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV). Typically these fruit are referred to as ‘cots, forbidden fruit, or A-fruits’ by the Marines. The reason is to avoid being jinxed by uttering the proper name of the fruit.
Officially, the myth began in WWII. Many of the AAVs that were hopping around the islands of the Pacific would carry the fruit, as it was often found in rations. All the AAVs destroyed with their crewmembers inside were said to have a single piece of cargo in common. Apricots. There is not any proof to support this statement. The enemy would destroy many vehicles in this conflict, with or without apricots.
According to the American Armored Foundation, tankers “have not eaten apricots for nearly 30 years, as they are believed to be a jinx and bad luck for LVTs, AAVs, and tanks.”
The superstition continued into the Vietnam War. There, Marines were hesitant about even being near someone eating a ‘cot’ because they thought it meant that rockets or artillery were soon coming. Whats more is the belief was so strong that Marines would often force someone out of the tent if they tempted fate by biting into one of the stone fruits. “On my first float, we had an engine blow up in one of the AAVs,” Staff Sgt. James A. Brown said in the story. “No one could figure out what caused it. We took it apart at the very bottom was an apricot seed.” These stories are at the root of finding the answer to why do marines not eat apricots.
If You Are Looking For A Scientific Answer, You Will Not Find It
The military also referenced that ‘cots’ were to blame for many Marine vehicles breaking down during the Persian Gulf War. Then later in the early days of the Global War on Terrorism before they were all but banned by the military overseas. Subsequently, in 1995, apricots were removed from the Marine MREs. The myth continues today, with most Marines not even uttering the name of the fruit, let alone touching either sulfured apricots or raw unsulfured apricots.
Previously, apricots with their origin in China were brought to the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa, courtesy of the Silk Road. They were called “golden eggs of the sun” and referred to by explorers such as Ibn Battuta. But now American Marines consider this tasty fruit a curse whose very mention is enough to send shivers down a backside.
“I got out years ago and still don’t f–k with apricots,” wrote one Reddit user.
“Lost radios, broken suspension, breakdowns, getting shot at, IEDs, etc.,” wrote user FishPilot. “All after immediately consuming something with an apricot in it.”
Another described an incident where the presence of apricots caused a scene.
“Bloody ‘ell apricots are one thing you DO NOT bring anywhere near a tank ever,” exclaimed user Balthrop. “A long time ago, an attached captain brought some dried apricots onto one of Charlie Company’s tanks. The loader saw this and shoved the officer.”
In conclusion, who knew something so sweet could cause so much strife?