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A Vidalia onion is a sweet onion of certain varieties, grown in a production area defined by law in Georgia and by the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The varieties include the hybrid yellow granex, varieties of granex parentage, or other similar varieties recommended by the Vidalia Onion Committee and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
The onions were first grown near Vidalia, Georgia, in the early 1930s. It is an unusually sweet variety of onion, due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which the onions are grown. Mose Coleman is believed to be the person who discovered the sweet Vidalia Onion variety in 1931.
The Vidalia onion was named Georgia's official state vegetable in 1990.
Georgia's state legislature passed the "Vidalia Onion Act of 1986" which authorized a trademark for "Vidalia Onions" and limits the production area to Georgia or any subset as defined by the state's Commissioner of Agriculture. The current definition includes:
- The following thirteen counties: Emanuel, Candler, Treutlen, Bulloch, Wheeler, Montgomery, Evans, Tattnall, Toombs, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Appling, and Bacon.
- Portions of the following seven counties: Jenkins, Screven, Laurens, Dodge, Pierce, Wayne, and Long.
In 1989, at the request of producers and handlers meeting the standards defined by Georgia law, the United States Department of Agriculture promulgated a Federal Marketing Order (CFR Title 7, Part 955) which defined the production area.
In popular culture
- Country singer Sammy Kershaw released a song named 'Vidalia' in 1996 as a single from the album Politics, Religion and Her. It is a wordplay song about a woman named Vidalia who, the singer says, "always makes me cry."
- The 1999 album Oh! The Grandeur, by American musician Andrew Bird, includes a song called 'Vidalia', an ode to the onion in question.
- Olsson, Tore C., “Peeling Back the Layers: Vidalia Onions and the Making of a Global Agribusiness,” Enterprise and Society, 13 (Sept. 2012), 832–61.
- Vidalia Onion Committee official website
- History of the Vidalia Onion
- Entry about the Vidalia onion from the New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Marketing Order 955: Vidalia Onions, from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website
- Vidalia Onion History and Facts