Los Alamitos, CA (January 2020) – The Kiwi Queen, Mushroom Queen, Packer’s 1979 Produce “Man” of the Year, Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, passed away on January 18 at the age of 96. Frieda lived a very long and healthy life. In fact, she became a vegan at the age of 95, choosing a plant-based diet.
Frieda was an incredibly vibrant woman her entire life and most recently received the Center for Growing Talent Catalyst Award which she accepted in person October 2019 during the Produce Marketing Association Convention in Anaheim. Keynote speaker Queen Latifah saluted the Kiwi Queen when she took the stage.
Frieda began her career in produce by working for Giumarra Brothers on the 7th street wholesale produce market (the company was managed by her husbands’ aunt and uncle). After a few years, the landlord of the produce market, the Southern Pacific Railroad, encouraged her to start her own business.
So on April 2, 1962, she opened Produce Specialties, Inc. on the L.A. Wholesale produce market with light lavender signs. She was the first woman to own and operate a wholesale produce company in the United States. That purple color turned into the company’s “trademarked” color, and to this day, most everyone in the produce industry associates “purple” with Frieda’s.
Frieda was eventually joined in the business by both her daughters: Karen Caplan in 1977 and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in 1983. Frieda’s greatest joy was that she got to work side by side with her daughters every day. Most recently, two of her grandchildren, Alex Berkley and Sophia Jackson joined the now third-generation family business.
Frieda was a political activist her entire life, starting with student body campaigns she ran while she was a student at UCLA. In 1945 Frieda was named “Miss UCLA” for being the best known person on campus.
She was active in many local organizations, which provide support to people regardless of age, gender, race, color, sexual orientation or financial status. Some of her favorites were: Dramatic Results, Trust Women, and Women Against Gun Violence. She also supported the ACLU, Anti-Defamation League and Planned Parenthood.
She was part of a longitudinal study being conducted at UCI Mind Institute in Irvine, CA to help find the cause and cure for Alzheimer’s. After her passing, her brain was donated to UCI Mind so it could be studied to help solve this terrible disease.
A Celebration of Life will be held on February 22; the location and time to be announced. The family suggests anyone wanting to make a donation in her memory, to choose one of the organizations which were important to Frieda: Dramatic Results (Long Beach) www.dramaticresults.org, UCI Mind http://www.mind.uci.edu , Trust Women (Kansas) www.trustwomen.org , Women Against Gun Violence (Los Angeles) www.wagv.org , American Civil Liberties Union – ACLU (Los Angeles) www.aclusocal.org , Anti-Defamation League (Los Angeles) https://www.adl.org, Planned Parenthood (Orange and San Bernardino Counties) www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-orange-san-bernardino.
About Frieda’s Inc.
Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.