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Dole wants people to know that bananas are not just for breakfast.

And to encourage consumers to think of the fruit as a snack for all times of the day and night, the Westlake Village, CA-based marketer has launched the Go Bananas After Dark campaign.

"The great majority of bananas consumed in the U.S. are eaten for breakfast, lunch or as a daytime snack," Bill Goldfield, communications manager of Dole Fresh Fruit Co., told The Produce News. "In general, less than probably 10 percent of consumers consider bananas as a dinnertime food -- and I would suggest the actual percentage eaten for dessert to be about the same. The only real significant after-dark use is in banana splits and as the basis for certain desserts like Bananas Foster -- but this is still only a small fraction of the total."

He added, "Given the enormous size of America's most popular fruit, if existing banana lovers would add just two more bananas to their regular banana purchase routine, it would represent a giant shift. As simple as it sounds, this is our goal."

To accomplish that goal, Dole created the summerlong campaign to challenge the notion of America's favorite fruit as primarily a breakfast and lunch food.

Go Bananas After Dark kicked off this month and features radio advertising as well as on-line and social media activities designed to encourage consumers to widen their banana horizons. Dole is also partnering with retailers in key markets.

"To start encouraging more of an after-dark mindset, we're introducing a number of compelling new dinner and dessert recipes this summer that incorporate grilled bananas, such as shrimp and banana kabobs, teriyaki pork chops with grilled bananas, ohana sundaes and grilled Caribbean fruit salsa," said Mr. Goldfield. "And some of our recipes are very simple, such as our 10- minute grilled bananas and grilled banana boats. Even some ardent banana fans aren't aware that you can put a banana right on the grill -- peel and all."

Dole launched the campaign's first element the week of May 24 with the first- ever "Dole" bananas-dedicated Facebook page, which had amassed more than 18,000 fans as of June 7.

Asked why bananas have not been consumed more frequently after dark, Mr. Goldfield replied, "I would venture to guess that over the years, banana producers like Dole have focused their marketing on the association of bananas with breakfast and lunch, and simply not communicated to consumers the idea of eating bananas during other parts of the day. I think the same perception holds true for other fruits, too. Americans assume that fruits are for breakfast and lunch, and vegetables are for dinner. We think this disconnect may be a great opportunity."

Dole is on the road between Memorial Day and Labor Day to take its Go Bananas After Dark message directly to banana consumers -- both on its own and in partnership with the 2010 Char-Broil Infrared Grilling Tour. Sponsored by Char-Broil, a leading marketer of infrared grills, the tour gives Dole the chance to introduce grilled "Dole" bananas to barbecue enthusiasts in more than 20 cities and at major summer events including Kansas City's Great American BBQ Festival; the DC BBQ Battle in Washington; and Nashville's Music City BBQ Festival.

Dole chefs and grilling experts also will demonstrate how to grill bananas on TV, radio, print and on-line media outlets across the country. Featured on this second tour are stops at Brennan's in New Orleans, the birthplace of the Bananas Foster, and other cities with a disproportionately high percentage of banana fans, such as Des Moines, IA, and Kansas City, MO.