I’m Not Ready for a Pomegranate Comeback

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images; Painting: Fulton Fine Art Institution/Getty; Terracotta Pomegranate: courtesy of Santa Maria Novella

Recently, a subtle shift in the fruit-trend cycle has taken place. A successor to the strawberries of TikTok yore, the linen skirts dotted with citrus slices, and those goddamned tomatoes is about to be crowned — and I think I know which piece of produce is primed to take over the throne: the pomegranate.

My colleague Danya Issawi told me she first saw the fruit pop up in a “What’s in my bag?” meme. (She also mentioned recently seeing a commercial for POM juice, jerking me back to the year 2008 when antioxidants had a death grip on the health-food market.) On Instagram, cult fragrance brand Santa Maria Novella has been pushing its Melograno line, a pomegranate-scented collection of bath and home products that includes a terra-cotta replica of the fruit itself.

Meanwhile, on TikTok, the pomegranate has taken off as the subject of choice for a whole bunch of aspiring poets–slash–gender theorists. A search for “pomegranate” produces video after video of mini-poems superimposed over artful shots of fruit. The verses, many of which are set to the opening lines of Mitski’s “Abbey,” riff on similar themes: womanhood, gender, consumption, destruction. Also, sometimes: cannibalism? It’s a lot of meaning for one fruit.


i am very smart and have nuanced takes on feminism #pomegranate #pomegranategirl

♬ original sound - j

maybe im looking too deep into it but i cant stand it. with that there are some good poems and analogies under this sound #poetry #poem #pomegranate

♬ original sound - j

"boys destructive!!!! girls sweet n gentle 😇😇" SILENCE. BE QUIET. none of you understand a pomegranate like I do #pomegranate

♬ original sound - j

It’s not surprising that pomegranates are the latest fruit to get tangled in the crosshairs of social-media-constructed femininity. Historically, the pomegranate is a magnet for cultural symbolism — it’s all over ancient Greek ephemera and mythology, factors into a handful of Jewish traditions, and holds some special meaning in countries like China, India, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. In 2022, fashion’s chief fruit purveyor Susan Alexandra deemed it the “queen goddess of fruits,” having just designed a pomegranate-shaped dreidel. It’s widely recognized as an emblem of fertility,  but also, depending on who you ask, abundance, luck, Jesus’ resurrection, or the 613 commandments in the Torah.

I’ll admit this: Pomegranates are objectively gorgeous. They have vivid red skin and, on the inside, a complex network of seeds and pulp that looks like an alien’s brain. It’s hard not to describe them with the most flowery, over-the-top language. At the risk of going full O’Keeffe, there is something girly and vaguely vaginal about their fleshy cross-sections and blood-red seed clusters. A bow would look right at home tied neatly around the fruit’s glossy exterior.


The fact that pomegranate symbolism is trending on tiktok right now makes me smile. If you get the concept, you just get it. #trending #pomegranate #tobeawoman #foryou #fruit

♬ original sound - j

But beyond the outsize mountain of symbolism piling up, there’s a glaring problem: Pomegranates do not taste good. They’re a pain in the ass to eat, as any of the lengthy preparation videos behind those TikTok poems can tell you. They’re way too tart, and their seeds have an unsettling texture that rests, somehow, between crunchy and soggy. They’re an absolute mess and they stain everything — something that some might frame as glamorous and feminine but that I would argue is just a major threat to the sanctity of my couch cushions. They’re not even that good for you — POM was sued by the FTC in 2010 for falsely claiming its drinks could prevent heart disease, prostate cancer, and (!!) erectile dysfunction.

Even Danya admitted that her beloved seeds “ruined at least half of Persephone’s calendar year.” What will the pomegranate girlies say to that?

I’m Not Ready for a Pomegranate Comeback