The Egyptians left onions in their tombs about 3,500 years ago. In fact, the mummy of King Ramses IV, who died in 1160 B.C., had small onions in the eye sockets, probably because they had some spiritual
significance and because they replicated a real eyeball. Paintings of onions appear on the inner walls of the pyramids of Unas (c. 2423 B.C.) and Pepi II (c.2200 B.C.), and in tombs of both the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom.
The Roman satirist Juvenal wrote of the Egyptians:
How Egypt, mad with superstition grown,
Makes gods of monsters but too well is known.
‘Tis mortal sin an Onion to devour,
Each clove of garlic hath a sacred power,
Religious nation sure, and best abodes,
When every garden is o’errun with gods!
The quercetin found in yellow and red onions is an antioxidant. Anthocyanins are found in red onions. The sugar content of an onion contributes to sweetness. The varieties that are known for sweetness, such as the Texas 1015, are prized for baking, frying, or eating raw in salads or sandwiches.
Dr. Leonard M. Pike, the “father of the Texas 1015” is continuing his research to breed more types of early onions that are sweeter and contain both quecetin and anthocyanin. A “pink” onion is a goal for this famous plant scientist and Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center at Texas A&M University.