When it comes to Vidalias, no one ever says “hold the onions.”
Looking for a new cash crop during the Great Depression, Mose Coleman of Toombs County tried onions, thinking they would be hot. Instead they turned out sweet….and popular. Other farmers followed his lead and an industry was born.
During the 1940s, the state built a farmers’ market in Vidalia, and the onion became a hot item for travelers. From their distribution center in Vidalia, Piggly Wiggly supermarkets sold the onions in stores across the region. By the mid-1970s farmers were growing Vidalias on more than 600 acres; that number is more than 14,000 now.
It can be called a Vidalia only if it’s grown in one of 20 counties designated by the the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986. Vidalia sales now total $90 million, 40 percent of the nation’s spring onion crop, making it one of Georgia’s greatest -- and tastiest -- commodities.
The Vidalia sweet onion became Georgia’s official state vegetable on April 11, 1990, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.