It’s no secret that America was infested with Mafias. Every one of us has seen Godfather 1 & 2, let’s not talk about the third one.
The point is there once was a time when New York City was controlled by big mafia families. Scarface, Wild Bill, Joe the boss, Peg Leg, and other infamous names.
The big gangs, or as Don would say “family” were controlling all the cash flow, justice system, and the streets.
As one might have already assumed, this was a really big problem for law enforcement agencies, and the government (at least the ones who weren’t part of the family).
All the pressure was left on the shoulder of the Mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia. Now, it was the issue duty to come up with a solution to this Mafia problem. and for that exact reason, he banned Artichoke.
This is quite a famous incident covered by many big newspapers of the time. To be specific, it was on the 21st of December, 1935 when the New York mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia issued a ban on Artichoke. He quoted to Atlas Obscura, the artichokes were banned because they were a “serious and threatening emergency to the city.”
Confused, right? how can the artichoke ban help one fight gangsters? No, this isn’t one bad joke or clickbait material. This is as true as it gets. A little bit of context might help you understand the situation better.
So take a seat, and let me explain to you what exactly is happening. (Hint, this is a big food war)
You see, artichokes were quite popular among the immigrants that came from Italy. Reason being that they could only get “fair-weather” crops from the farmers on West Coast. This was also the place where Gangs appeared.
Most of you, might not know it but, the Agriculture industry was one of the largest money makers for mafias. And by the time, Artichokes were banned, these families had already accumulated millions of dollars.
But how did they earn money? Well, it is quite simple. These gangs controlled certain areas, and when they realized how much potential the agricultural industry had, they made growers pay a certain amount to import their products.
So, the more people, wholesalers, vendors, buy artichokes, the more the gangsters earn. With this strategy the “transportation racket” only grew, making these Gangsters richer by day, and more powerful by night.
This was going so well that, one of the gangsters Ciro Terranova came to be known as “Artichoke King.” Yes, that’s him in the picture above.
Artichokes were the only agricultural products these Mafia used to make money out of, but this ban by the New York mayor certainly dealt a lot of damage.
This move was so effective that Fiorello LaGuardia lifted the ban after just THREE DAYS. This period was enough to ease the mob pressure on the trade. In addition to this, this move also made Artichokes a popular choice outside the Italian-American community, Starving the Mafia Families.
This was really what we call today a “Big Brain Move”. It was movies and actions like these which finally made the American Mafia Families fall.