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A SECRET Code? Is there a secret pineapple meaning and what about flamingos at campsites?

| Updated Feb 27, 2024

Is there a secret pineapple meaning, and what do flamingos mean at a campsite? Here’s what you need to know and whether it’s really true…

Social media has recently been spreading the “true meaning” of pineapples and flamingos used to decorate a campsite or RV. There is a secret… and sultry… message behind the brightly colored fruit and bird.

Or so people say. But is a pineapple ever just a pineapple, and a flamingo just a flamingo?

The topic has certainly popped up multiple times in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group, and the answer depends on how the tropical items are displayed and by whom. We’ll explain their meaning, how they’re displayed, and what that means for you as a camper. 

What Do Pineapples Mean?

A SECRET Code? Is there a secret pineapple meaning and what about flamingos at campsites? 1

First, we think it’s very important to start with the traditional meaning of pineapples. Pineapples have had strong cultural meanings for several hundred years. So, we should never brush off centuries of history for a niche use of its symbolism today.

The pineapple most notably represents prosperity, hospitality, and friendship. Its influence on European culture (and thus, eventually, American culture) began all the way back in 1493.  

Apparently, Christopher Columbus discovered more than America… it is said he discovered pineapples in a deserted Caribbean village. 

Intrigued by the unusual fruit, he returned to Spain with a few pineapples and presented them to King Ferdinand. The novelty of the fruit was a huge hit and essentially “went viral” in those Renaissance times.

Prosperity

As you can imagine, pineapples were hard to come by in the 1500s and even for hundreds of years thereafter. And, as Economy 101 taught us, that means pineapples were expensive. One pineapple could cost as much as $8,000 in today’s dollars.

Thus, pineapples became a symbol of wealth and power in Europe, as only people in those stations could obtain one.

They were commonly featured as the centerpiece of grand events, topping a tower of other desirable fruits, like apples and oranges. 

The meaning carried into architecture and design, as well, with fine homes decorated with things like pineapple wallpaper and even architectural features like pineapple fountains.

Hospitality

pineapple meaning

The noble and upper classes of the time also featured pineapples at their banquets and balls as a sign of hospitality. After all, they were sharing this rare fruit with their guests as opposed to hoarding it for themselves. 

They would often divvy the precious fruit or turn it into chef specialties, like candied deserts or ice cream. However, not everyone could afford such generosity, as some hosts rented a pineapple for the event and had to return it after.

As pineapples became more available and worked their way down the classes, this meaning of hospitality remained. 

Friendship

The pineapple’s representation of hospitality evolved into a symbol of friendship and was even used in political matters as a gesture of alliance. It carried the message of “let’s be friends” and still maintains that meaning today.

Now the question is… Has the message of friendship and hospitality evolved to a new level in the camping world?

What Does a Pineapple Mean on a Camper?

A pineapple on a camper potentially symbolizes a “different” kind of hospitality, used by swingers to alert other swingers to their sexual lifestyle. However, in most cases, a pineapple is just a pineapple that bears the same meanings it has for centuries. 

As we’ve learned from our brief history lesson, a pineapple on a camper signifies friendship and hospitality. And as many RVers defend, “I just like pineapples.” 

So, you should never jump to the conclusion that a pineapple is a beacon for sexual attention. Chances are, it’s just a pineapple. 

And, if you “just like pineapples,” don’t feel like you have to remove them from your decor because of a possible hidden meaning. Just don’t display them upside down…

What Does an Upside-Down Pineapple Mean at a Campsite?

An upside-down pineapple, on the other hand, is likely to carry the “secret message” of swingers. It’s often a message that the couple at the campsite is in an “open relationship,” meaning they are open to swapping or joining sexual partners. 

This is the more recognized and effective way to convey the “secret message” as it's unusual for a pineapple to be upside down. That unusual display helps keep the message clear and separated from the hundreds of years of innocent symbolism. 

What Do Flamingoes Mean at a Campsite?

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Flamingoes are said to represent the same thing as upside-down pineapples, a symbol swingers use to advertise their sexual openness. It probably stems from the plastic flamingoes’ “fun and playful” color and design. However, that's usually not the case…

Flamingoes would be a much more confusing symbol since a lot of campers simply love to decorate their campsite with the kitschy birds. And we doubt that upside-down flamingoes are going to catch on. They’ll just get uprighted by friendly camping neighbors who think kids were messing with your flamingoes. 

So, yes, flamingoes could mean that swingers are currently residing at that campsite. However, chances are, it’s just happy campers that like the brightly-colored birds.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions!

So, unless you see an upside-down pineapple, we recommend NOT jumping to any conclusions. If a neighbor sets up camp and decorates their site with pineapples and flamingoes, they likely just like tropical decor. 

And if you’re one of those people who “just like flamingoes and pineapples,” just be prepared for some possibly awkward conversations from people who’ve only caught snippets from social media. A simple “we just like them” should be enough to turn them away. Chances are, people who partake in that lifestyle know what to really look for and won’t bother you.

Looking to Make Friends While Camping?

If you're looking for ways to make innocent friendships while camping, we have a resource that can help. We offer tips and advice that will even more clearly show your friendliness than a pineapple…

Read How to Make Friends While Camping (14 Icebreakers)

Top 10 Rules for Keeping Your Relationship Strong While RVing

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

In the above video, we cover our 10 tips for getting along with your partner in an RV. Spoiler alert: the tips do not include hanging an upside-down pineapple.

We also recommend How to Keep the Romance Alive While RVing (7 Helpful Tips)

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-02-27

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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