Alligator Pear is another name for the avocado. The name came about perhaps as early as the late 1600’s but at least as early as the 19th century.
Some sources indicate that the alligator pear may have stemmed from a mispronunciation of the Spanish word for avocado in Mexico, aguacate, which derived from the Nahuatl word ahuacaquahuitl, which meant testicle.
Aguacate has been the common name for the fruit in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean since the time of the Spanish conquest. The word avocado, of course, derives from aguacate, as well, although some seem to believe that it has something to do with the Spanish and/or French words for “lawyer, abogado and avocat, respectively.
The pear part of the name alligator pear came from the shape of the avocado being similar to a pear. However, the alligator part of the name most likely was based on the bumpy green skin of the avocado being similar to an alligator’s skin. Although avocados were not commercially grown in the United States until the late 1800’s, they had been grown earlier in Florida, where alligators are common. The first commercial U.S. avocado orchards were established in Florida but the California avocado trade quickly dominated the market. The term alligator pear was never favored by the industry.