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In our Facebook Group called RV Camping for Newbies questions about flamingos and upsidedown pineapples come up all the time. People want to know what flamingos and upside-down pineapples mean.
If you’re on the naïve side like me, you might believe that upside-down pineapples ripen better when inverted. Maybe a pineapple at your door is a sign of welcome.
Those are a few of the answers you’ll find when you Google the question. I saw someone answer the question on Quora with an entire explanation regarding pineapple upside-down cakes.
Of course, I would be the one that would graciously put the pineapple back the way it belonged or ask someone why their fruit was upside down. Unfortunately, the upside-down pineapple flamingo pairing has nothing to do with cake.
To avoid an awkward situation, we’ll explain what upside-down pineapples with flamingos mean. We’ll also talk about how the idea started and some other variations that relate to it.
What Does an Upside Down Pineapple Mean?
An upside-down pineapple is a secret sign that the people behind the symbol are into the swinging lifestyle. People who wear these symbols look for others who share this way of life.
Does a Flamingo Symbolize Swinging?
Although less common, the flamingo symbolizes someone looking to swing. Yet the pink flamingo is mostly a harmless RV patio feature that dates back to the Vintage Era (1945-1970).
What are Swingers?
Swingers are people who participate in group sex or who swap partners in a group setting.
What’s the History of the Upside-Down Pineapples?
The history of the upside-down pineapple without the flamingo is much less questionable than today’s interpretation. It’s commonly associated with hospitality and has been used as a sign in places where guests are welcomed. Some say the symbol originated from Hawaii and represents the local’s friendly hospitality.
Some say the upside-down pineapple originated in Europe as a symbol of welcome during the Renaissance period. However, at one time, it was only used by royalty.
It’s also said to be a sign of prosperity and good fortune.
What’s the History of Pink Flamingos?
Pink flamingos were first designed in 1957 in Massachusetts by Don Featherstone. He was hired by Union Products to sculpt a pink flamingo and ducks. The pink bird was a hit to brighten up tract homes in post-WWII neighborhoods. The flamingo was a great way to differentiate your house from all the other places on the street.
Flocked By Pink Flamingo
Over the decades, pink flamingos rose and fell in popularity. Then, in the late ‘70s and early ’80, the pink flamingo became part of a prank culture where people put them on other peoples’ lawns as a joke.
Oddly enough, Featherstone was awarded a Nobel Art prize for their creation and eventually became president of Union Products.
How Did Pineapples and Flamingos Become the Mascot of Swingers?
While it’s not abundantly clear why upside-down pineapples and flamingos became the “secret” symbol of swingers, the cat’s out of the proverbial bag thanks to social media. It could be that the welcoming symbols were used to show hospitality, and it just spilled into some being more “hospitable” than others.
Turning your pineapple upside down in your shopping cart can indicate that you’re looking for a swinger party.
Several other symbols are used to indicate the swinging lifestyle. There are different ways the upside-down pineapple without the flamingo, in particular, can be worn. Be aware of shorts or t-shirts with pineapples or even pineapple jewelry. Even a right-side-up pineapple can be misconstrued.
Other symbols include:
- People wearing red ballcaps
- Wearing a thumb ring
- Wearing a toe ring
- Switching the wedding ring to the right hand
- Garden Gnomes
- Metal Star on the front of the house
- Yin-Yang tattoo
- A black ring on the right hand
- White rocks around a mailbox
Where Might You See an Upside-Down Pineapple?
You can see an upside-down pineapple just about anywhere you go. They have become popular on the cabin doors of cruise ships. You can also go on a “swinger” cruise.
They’re also becoming more common on RVs. You might see one outside an RV, on the door, or even a symbol on the doormat. You might also see the symbol on a person’s clothing or jewelry.
How Common are Swingers in the RV World?
According to the New York Post, there are over 15 million swingers in the U.S. That’s about 4.5% of the country.
The number of swingers in the RV community could probably reflect that. I haven’t seen these symbols, and I don’t know anyone in this lifestyle, but out of curiosity, I’ll probably be looking to see how often I see them in my travels.
Bottom Line: Could Pineapples and Flamingos on your RV Put you in an Awkward Position?
Absolutely, yes, these symbols could be misconstrued. There are stories about awkward encounters for those who aren’t in the “know” of these symbols.
If that is what you like, I don’t believe that these hijacked items should keep you from decorating your RV space with pineapples or flamingos.
A courteous response to anyone that inquires about swinging is all you need to give. Now that you know the meaning behind upside-down pineapples and flamingos, you won’t be caught off guard by inquiries.
About the Author
Terri Nighswonger and her husband Todd are full-time RVers and work campers. They have been living full-time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Minnie Australian Shepherd, Remi.
They originate from the Midwest but plan to enjoy the west for a few years, wintering in Arizona and summering wherever the road may lead. Writing is Terri’s passion, but she also loves hiking, kayaking, walking her dogs, and anything she can do outdoors.