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The Origin Of Walla Walla Onions Is Actually On A European Island
By Nico Danilovich
While the U.S. government says that only onions from the Walla Walla Valley of Washington and northeast Oregon can be marketed as Walla Walla onions, they have different origins.
This sweet onion variety originates from the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea, boasting fertile river valleys that grow sweet onions, citrus, grapes, and olives.
A Frenchman named Peter Pieri brought sweet onion seeds from Corsica to modern-day Washington State in the late 19th century.
When Pieri brought the sweet onions to Walla Walla, it coincided with the migration of Italian immigrants to the region, who farmed alongside him and adopted his crop.
Pieri’s sweet onions were hardy and cold-resistant, allowing them to flourish in the forest oasis of Walla Walla, which receives several inches of snow during winter.
Nowadays, Walla Walla onions are iconic, luxurious, and respected, and there’s even an annual Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival to celebrate its popularity.