The Underground Mango Community Is the Best Reason to Download Whatsapp

updated Feb 24, 2021
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When beloved chef Samin Nosrat got to talking about mangoes on a recent episode of her pandemic-times podcast, Home Cooking, the Netflix show host and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat brought up the WhatsApp mango economy, causing her co-host, musician, and podcaster Hrishi Hirway — and many listeners to say, “What does that mean?”

The answer comes from reporter Ahmed Ali Akbar, who says that Pakistani-American communities in the U.S. get the good fruit through dealers they contact through the messaging app. Basically: they’ve got a mango guy, and he gets them the best mangoes. Ahmed reported the story in a two-part series for the America’s Test Kitchen podcast late last year, but as interest piqued after Samin’s mention, he took to Twitter to offer more insight (and tease that he has more info coming soon in a new piece).

Ahmed starts out with the most important information: the contact information for “a guy on WhatsApp” who ships the mangoes from Texas to airport shipping yards around the country. Per the graphic he shares, which has an adorable anthropomorphic dancing mango, each four-and-a-half-pound box of mangoes has about four to six of the coveted chaunsa mangoes. If you’re buying the minimum eight boxes, that’s $38 per box, or somewhere around $8 a mango and the price goes down ever so slightly from there if you’re buying big quantities.

He also mentions that you can spend a bit more and buy smaller quantities from a website called Mangozz, but there, you’ll pay more per box and be out some $20 or more in shipping.

Then he gets to the important part: explaining why the mangoes cost what they do. Mangoes go bad quickly, and not only are they traveling 8,000 miles from Pakistan, they have to get irradiated and approved when they get here. But people pay this, he explains because “American mangoes are just not on the same level.” Later, he adds one more thought: “These mangoes made me see God.”