The World in a Nutshell
There are more than 30 different varieties of almonds—yes, really—and 10 of them comprise the majority of almonds produced in California. And while the U.S. may be the largest market for almonds with about 30-40% of the crop sold for domestic use, the rest of our almonds are shipped internationally.
The Chocolate Lovers. The Japanese swoon for delicate oval balls of almonds coated in chocolate and for pretzel sticks dipped in milk, dark or white chocolate and coated with diced almonds.
The Seasonal Snackers. Almonds are most popular during autumn and winter. Especially during the Chinese New Year as a roasted, salted almond snack. Unique flavors such as abalone are also in play.
The Smart Thinkers. Here, almonds are considered brain food for kids and play a key role in traditional sweets known as mithai. Almonds are also a common gift during the festival of Diwali.
The Health Nuts. Ancient Greek medical texts are among the oldest to discuss the use of almonds, and today they've remained an integral part of the health-focused Mediterranean lifestyle.
The Candy-Coated Gifters. Italians started the tradition of giving Jordan almonds as wedding favors, and now they use them to mark other milestones too: red for graduations, green for engagements, blue for a baby boy and pink for a baby girl.
The Sweet Treaters. Almonds are used in French patisserie treats such as macaroons, almond marzipan and almond-cream-filled puff pastries called galette des rois (the cake of the kings) enjoyed on the Feast of the Epiphany.
The Originators. Franciscan padres from Spain originally brought the almond tree to California in the 1700s, and Spanish cooks still use almonds in many traditional treats and recipes.
The Anywhere, Anytimers. Almonds are used for Germany's mouth-watering marzipan confections and are starting to become more popular in snack foods eaten at open-air fests and Christmas markets.
The Superstitious Crunchers. Swedes have been known to hide an almond in rice pudding as a symbol of good fortune. Whoever finds it is said to get married in the coming year.
The Hometowners. More than 80% of the world's almonds are produced in California, and from whole almonds to almond butter, almond flour, almond milk and almond oil, Americans love all things almonds. United States of Almonds has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
The Snackers. For many years, almonds were seen as a holiday treat and the perfect gift. But those in the United Kingdom are quickly becoming daily almond snackers to help carry them through their busy days.