If you popped in on Dianne Sherwood’s catering business many years ago, you would have found a bunch of avocados in wool socks lined up in a drawer.
It was a ripening trick Sherwood thought everyone knew about.
Her business at the time was in Sun Valley, Idaho. Avocados were a popular part of the menu, but the ones delivered to the resort town were often rock hard. Sherwood says she just “always knew” that wrapping avocados in socks helped them ripen evenly. She doesn’t remember where she originally came across the information, but it was a tip she recently mentioned to a friend and was surprised to discover her friend knew nothing about it.
“I thought everyone knew that,” says Sherwood.
The Tiddlycove neighbourhood resident had long since retired from the catering business and was living on the North Shore when her friend’s reaction helped her decide to design her own product based on the sock idea. Sherwood’s work background includes manufacturing and branding so taking an idea from concept to execution was not completely unfamiliar.
“I knew the process of putting a product together from start to finish,” she notes, although this is the first product she has created herself.
The idea for Avocado Socks was hatched a number of years ago, but Sherwood took time to care for her husband first, who had early onset Alzheimer’s disease, before fully diving back into the project this year.
Her first step was to ask Ingrid at the Knit & Stitch Shoppe in West Vancouver if she could knit a sock for an avocado. She could.
“It was really cute, it was beautiful,” recalls Sherwood. But the work took four hours so Sherwood did some research online and found the owner of a small knitting mill with 13 machines.
Together, they came up with 20 different prototypes until they found the perfect fit. The machines used to make the socks require a special, thinner type of yarn that is imported from Scotland.
Once knitted, the socks arrive in Vancouver where a social enterprise that hires people with employment challenges puts on the finishing touches: drawstrings, labels, and hang tags.
Lots of people know to ripen avocados in a paper bag, explains Sherwood, and the sock concept is similar.
An engineer friend told her it might have something to do with the fact that avocados let off a certain type of gas as they ripen, and a fitted sock would keep that gas close to the fruit to help it ripen faster and more evenly.
“I always felt it was like incubating a baby bird,” says Sherwood with a laugh.
Avocado Socks are $14.99 each and are available at four North Shore stores: MarketPlace IGA Dundarave, Zing Paperie & Design in the Village at Park Royal, Herzog Crystal in Park Royal South, and Mo’s General Store in Lower Lonsdale, and online at theavocadosock.com.