A Facebook friend was involved in a quandary, needed answers to her dilemma, and wrote this on Facebook recently: “Does anyone in the Facebook world know the 4 digit produce code for bananas? I am trying to prove that my husband is a weirdo for knowing this number. I bought organic bananas, but since my husband thinks it’s ridiculous to spend money on organic things, I took off the stickers on the bananas. There was one sticker that wouldn’t come off so I at least got the word ‘organic’ off. There was still a produce code showing and I got caught.

He (raising his voice from the kitchen): ‘Why did you buy organic bananas?’

Me (sitting and smiling, not saying anything but eventually gave up and asked): ‘How did you know?’

He: ‘Because regular bananas produce code is 4011 and these bananas start with a 9.’

Me: ‘Who even knows that or would even pay attention to that?’”

And then she pleaded for her Facebook friends if they, too, either thought this weird or was it normal to know produce codes.

You know those little stickers on fruits and vegetables? They are called ‘PRICE LOOK-UP or PLUs. These codes contain numbers that cashiers use to ring up these kinds of purchases, but you can also use them to make sure you’re getting what you paid for.

Here is a clue of what to look for:

  1. A five-digit number that starts with a 9 means it is organic.
  2. A four-digit code beginning with a 3 or 4 means the produce is probably conventionally grown. Example: regular small lemons sold in the U.S. are labeled 4033; large are 4053; small organic lemons are coded 94033, large are 94053.
  3. A five-digit code that starts with an 8 means the item is genetically modified (it has genes from other organisms).

What if PLUs overtook us in the future? I can see it now:

Year: 2038 A.D.


“Yes, hello. Is this Y. Bother Grocery?

“It is. May I help you?”

“Yes. I am calling to see if your shipment of 4011s arrived today? I wanted to make sure before I came over.”

“Yes, ma’am. And our 94011s also arrived.”

“Thank you. My husband only wants the 4011 variety.”

“We will be having a sale next week if you can wait a week.”

“What is on sale THIS week? I also need 4159. Are they still in season, too?”

“No, not those, but we have all the rest – 4082, 4663, 4665. Need those?”

“Of course. Doesn’t everyone? May I ask you about more fruit? I think I saw some beautiful plump and juicy 4012s from Florida. Do you still have those?”

“We do. Our 4288s also came from Florida. They are just as juicy. If you are going to make any pies for the upcoming holidays, remember our 4240s, 4045s, and 4404s. They’ll make your pies delicious.”

“Any 4247s?”

“Did I not mention those? Yes m’am. Certainly have plenty of ‘em.”

“Thank you for your time. You have been so nice to give me all this information over the phone. What is your name?”

“My last name is Licious. D. Licious.”

Who is the grocery shopper in your household and do you or they know these PLU codes? Test it out.

4011 – Banana

94011 – Organic Banana

4159 – Vidalia Onion

4082 – Red Onion

4663 – White Onion

4665 – Yellow Onion

4012 – Orange

4288 – Grapefruit

4240 – Blueberry

4045 – Cherry

4404 – Peach

4247 – Strawberry