Hopefully this post will serve as the definitive reference for fruit bowling rules and regulations as the sport progresses. If you’d like to learn more about fruit bowling, click “continue reading”.
Fruit bowling is essentially exactly what you think it is. It’s throwing fruit down a path in an attempt to score points. It differs from conventional bowling in that the “lane” is a typically a street, there are “goals” at either end and has much different scoring. It’s a light hearted game that aims to be fun, enjoyable by all and very stress relieving. Fruit bowling is played by teams, typically of 4 or 5, always outside, often after dark to increase the challenge and with a very wide variety of produce items.
The history of Fruit Bowling is actually quite simple. In the fall of 2006, a group of men from Houston’s Second Baptist Church (Pearland) were rather bored at a church holiday party. Previously some of the groups members had decided to dispose of extra pumpkins by seeing how far they would roll down a neighborhood street. The idea of rolling produce down the street, and thus watching it explode as it colides with a curb at high speed, was too interesting not to attempt. A run to the grocery store was made. After quite a while it became apparent that some sort of rule structure was needed so that the street wouldn’t turn into a giant fruit salad. “Goal posts” were established and a scoring system created. Thus Fruit Bowling was born. The rules have been modified from their originals, incorporating new ideas and removing things that didn’t work. In it’s current form it’s easy to play and stupid enough to try.
–The playing field – Any stretch of urban pavement at least 250ft in length and is strait and free of obstacles. Recommended surfaces are blacktop and concrete pavement, the smoother the better. Avoid streets with large cracks, slopped sides for water run off or large storm drains near the playing area. The typical dimensions for a field are 200ft by however wide the street is.
–The fruit – Any large, round fruit or vegetable is acceptable for play. It is up to the teams to decide on their produce based on it’s surface, inner contents and strength. Recommended items include but are not limited to cantaloupe, honeydew melons, mini round watermelons, casaba melons, pumpkins, gourds, acorn squash and the like. Not recommenced are small items (tomatoes, apples, etc), items with low surface tension (tomatoes, persimmons, etc) or breakable and potentially dangerous items (coconuts for example, shatter when broken). Man made items/balls/objects are strictly forbidden. The perfect fruit for bowling is sized somewhere between a large softball and an actual bowling ball. Considerations of the shape of the items, their curvature and ridges should also be made.
–The goals – 4 “goal posts”, typically orange street cones, 5 gallon paint buckets or other similar objects are used to mark the goals, 2 on each end of the field. They should be spaced no less than 6ft apart, and no more than 10ft. The width is adjustable based on the length of the playing field. Longer fields require wider goals. A “test round” or “warm up round” is typically instituted to judge the difficulty of actually getting a “ball” through the goal so that adjustments can be made before play begins.
Rules and Scoring:
The rules of Fruit Bowling are simple. Teams of 5 take positions at either end of the field (street) behind the goal lines. Team A, one person at a time, bowls their fruit down the street in an attempt to roll it between the two markers at the other end. The roll must be an underhand roll, similar in style to actual bowling. No overhand throwing allowed. A successful roll earns your team 1 point. If a goal post is hit, the rolling team receives 2 points. Team B collects or catches the fruit rolled by Team A. Team B then takes their turn rolling the fruit back in the other direction attempting to do the same things. Since Team B also starts with their own collection of fruit, strategy is involved as to which fruit will be sent back down the street. From this point on the teams “trade fruit” only by bowling it down the street. If one team seems particularly skilled with a certain variety of fruit, it might not be advisable to “send it back” to them, and instead sending something they might have trouble scoring with. Great care must also be taken to extend the life of the fruit. Eventually, the fruit will wear down and break/burst. As the number of available fruit drops below the number of players, teams much elect which bowlers will bowl the remaining fruit. When all the fruit has been destroyed, the game is over and whoever was ahead in scoring wins, but this is NOT the goal of the game. The goal of the game is to score points. The destruction of fruit, which is usually quite spectacular and funny, is merely a by product. Typical games are played to 30 points but can be adjusted per agreement with each team. This is usually based on the “best guess” of the teams as to how long their wifes will let them stand out in street throwing fruit at each other. In a typical “set” of games, fruit will last approximately 2-3 30 points games, thus sets of fruit bowling are as follows: 1 set of 3 rounds, rounds played to 30 points. Of course, if you wish to extend particular rounds or attempt additional sets more fruit will be needed. It is fairly handy to have a grocery store within 5 driving minutes.
Fruit bowling is a light hearted game and should be treated as such. Throwing fruit down a street should in no way be taken seriously, if that’s even possible. Also, for those that argue that this is a waste of food, approximately 90% of the fruit “cracks” instead of bursts. This leads to leaking and thus unusable fruit. This fruit is typically eaten by the bowlers as to not go to waste. Bowlers should carry pocket knives if they enjoy their fruit in “slice” form. On rare occasions when fruit hits a curb or parked car it will indeed burst. Take caution not to bowl in the direction of a neighbors parked car or house as this tends of cause irritation or calls to the police department. If the police do arrive and ask what on earth you’re doing, just explain that you’re making a very large fruit salad and needed the extra space.
Imagery for examples: