The Vidalia Onion Story
The Story behind the State Vegetable of
Vidalia Onion story takes root in Toombs County, Georgia over 60
years ago, when a farmer by the name of Mose Coleman discovered in
late spring of 1931 that the onions he had planted were not hot, as
expected. They were sweet!
was a struggle to sell the onions at first, but Coleman persevered,
and managed to sell them for $3.50 per 50-pound bag, which in those
days was a big price.
farmers, who through the Depression years hadn't been able to able
to get a fair price for their produce, thought Coleman had found a
gold mine! They began to follow suit, and soon after, their farms
were also producing the sweet, mild onion.
the 1940s, the State of Georgia built a Farmers' Market in Vidalia,
and because the small town was at the juncture of some of South
Georgia's most widely traveled highways, the market had a thriving
tourist business. Word began to spread about "those Vidalia
onions." Consumers, then, gave the onions their famous name.
were made, and " Vidalia Onions" began appearing on the
shelves of Piggly Wiggly and A&P grocery stores.
the 1950s and 60s, production grew at a slow but steady pace,
reaching some 600 total acres by the mid 1970s. At this point, a
push was made for Vidalia Onions to be distributed throughout the
nation, and several promotional efforts were begun. Onion festivals
became an annual event in both Vidalia and nearby Glennville,
Georgia, and production grew tenfold over the next decade.
1986, Georgia's state legislature passed legislation giving the
Vidalia Onion legal status and defining the 20-county production
area. The Vidalia Onion was named Georgia's Official State Vegetable
by the state legislature in 1990.
1989, Vidalia Onion producers united to establish Federal Marketing
Order No. 955 for the crop. This USDA program established the
Vidalia Onion Committee and extended the definition of a Vidalia
Onion to the Federal level. The Marketing Order provided a vehicle
for producers to jointly fund research and promotional programs.
in 1990, technology borrowed from the apple industry was adapted to
begin the Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage of Vidalia Onions. Now,
some 70 million pounds of Vidalia Onions can be put into CA storage
for up to 7 months, thus extending the marketing of Vidalias through
the Fall and into the holiday season.
1991, the Vidalia Onion Committee began to annually honor one
individual with induction into the Vidalia Onion Hall of Fame. The
Committee considers the recipient's character, reputation and
overall contribution to the growth and success of the Vidalia Onion.
An inductee must be a leader in in one or more of the following
Protecting and promoting the quality of the Vidalia Onion
Advertising and promoting the Vidalia Onion
Sales of Vidalia Onions and creative selling methods
Research and growth development of the Vidalia Onion