Some Londoners are perplexed by large quantities of free bananas that have appeared in every corner of the city in recent weeks.
Plastic pop-up tables laden with stacks of “free” bananas have become the subject of online scavenger hunts in local social media groups, with people coming together to report sightings and share photographs.
Then, there are the theories about who this bananthropist is and what’s motivating their generosity.
“I was really confused, like, where is this coming from? Who is doing this?” said Michelle Alexander, the creator and administrator of the Facebook group The Giving Tree London.
After seeing bananas in multiple locations, Alexander posted a photograph of a table of free bananas at the corner of Adelaide and Cheapside streets.
“FREE Bananas all over city,” her post read. “I saw another on Wonderland and Southdale in front of timmies. If anyone else spots bananas please comment below.”
Comment, Londoners did.
Soon after Alexander’s appeal for information was posted, she was surprised to see a number of other sightings being reported.
At least 20 separate sightings were reported by members of the Facebook group. Free bananas were being given away across the city, from Greenway Park, to the intersection of Southdale and Wonderland roads, and the area of Hamilton Road and Rectory Street.
“I knew people would be curious about it,” said Alexander.
Online groups ripe with speculation
With sightings, also came speculation.
Some on social media speculated that the pro bono potassium boosts were financed by Amazon, a company that has plans for a local operation, and gives away free bananas at a community banana stand at its Seattle and Arlington headquarters.
Others speculated foul play — that the bananas were poisoned or otherwise tampered with — a claim Londoner Mike Razberry disputed in a post which read, “Figured I’d see if they were alright and ya so far so good LOL. I’m still alive. Not addicted to them yet.”
Alexander told CBC News, her daughter had her own theory.
“My daughter told me Apr. 19 is National Banana Day, but why would he be putting out bananas now?” she said.
The most common theory, however, was shared by a majority of online sleuths. That someone simply wanted to help people who are hungry.
“Maybe it’s somebody who was in a struggling situation in the past and has come across some good fortune and has decided to pay it forward,” said Michelle Daviau. She points out that bananas are the perfect fresh food item to give away on account of their low price point, compostability, and durability.
“I do notice that a lot of comments have been about people experiencing homelessness needing food,” said Daviau
Peeling back layers of mystery
In the search for the identity of the mysterious bananafactor, multiple individuals chimed in that they had seen a man in London grocery stores with carts full of bananas.
“He comes to my Food Basics where I help him out. He spends typically $200 every other day,” said a post by an individual who said he works at Food Basics.
CBC News reached out to the employee, in case he had other clues, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
Warm reception, with a tinge of criticism
Despite the ongoing mystery, the banana stands are making people smile.
“It makes me really, really, really happy because I’m a giving person and I like to see when others are giving and it just makes my heart full, and I love it,” said Alexander.
It also has some people discussing ways to pay it forward even further by collecting the brown, and sometimes frozen bananas that are not taken. Baking!
“If I had a vehicle myself, I would go around the city, try and find all these frozen bananas, make banana bread and then put them back all on these stands for people,” said Daviau.