It's a simple tradition centuries old and honored by millions: a bite of date taken at sundown. This Muslim ritual began with the Prophet Muhammad around the seventh century. Today, it often is used to end the daily fast during Ramadan, Islam's holy month during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan begins Tuesday.
That tradition has transformed the date into a massive industry in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia alone, more than 21 million palm trees produce 884,000 tons of dates a year, making the kingdom one of the largest date producers.
Those dates are eaten fresh, dried and in any number of treats. Gourmet date shops sell date-filled chocolates, date mustard, date syrup and date bars. (MORE)