Your one-hand-clapping moment for the day

most people, including me, grew up peeling a banana from the stem down. However, the stem makes a better handle, and the other end is actually easier to peel, so peeling the banana from the other end is strategically dominant. Indeed, this is what banana-experts (monkeys) do. The implication is that some traditions we take for granted are suboptimal.

That insight comes from my Yale colleague, Barry Nalebuff. It’s reported by Falkenblog, and the full post is worth reading. Here is another excellent sentence:

At the end of the day most really great economic ideas aren’t derived through the formalism of abstruse mathematics, but rather, finding an important parochial problem and solving it, and then fortuitously finding out it has general relevance.

For the second time in a row, via Rajeev’s excellent shared items feed. Barry’s video lecture is here.

15 thoughts on “Your one-hand-clapping moment for the day

  1. Personally, I cut them in half and then slit the peel vertically down to the end, at which point the fleshy white part just pops right out.

    That’s what you can do with two hands and a knife. ;-)

    Humans +1

  2. Actually, you don’t need a knife. Just tear it in two halves (I don’t know if tear is the right word).

  3. Yeah, just grab it and break it in two, unless it’s way overripe, it doesn’t even get mushed

  4. People always seem surprised by the way I do it, which is quite easy. Just firmly grip the middle of the banana in one hand, but not so firm that you crush it of course. The other hand grabs the stem and then pulls it back in the opposite direction of the way it’s pointing. The banana skin will quickly split along one of the seems. Takes 2 seconds to peel it away.

  5. Question for Barry: monkeys are experts in cacophagy– should we follow their example as well?

  6. Clearly, this way of peeling a banana isn’t that much better. Otherwise, people would use it. For example, I’ve never had much of a problem peeling or keeping a firm grip on a banana doing it the human way.

  7. Bananas tend to be less mushy at the stem than they do at the tip. Peeling from the stem thus results in a smaller chance of getting banana mush on your thumb. Since one of the main advantages of bananas is their ease of consumption without cutlery and yet without getting one’s hands dirty, peeling from the stems makes sense for humans (presumably, monkeys care less about getting their hands dirty).

  8. The tip is connected to the peel with a needle-like thing. This helps to anchor the banana when peeled from the stem. When peeled from the tip, the chance of the banana falling from the stem is much larger, as there is no anchor and it tends to just pop out. Certainly there needs to be more technique involved at least to avoid this, when gripping the banana from the stem.

  9. it never even occurred to me to peel from the other side, mostly because I have never had problems.