Anita Fial, Who Carried the Banner of Exotic Food, Dies at 87


Brooklyn isn’t famous for exotic fruits and vegetables, but it produced Anita Fial who, as a home economist and marketing expert, helped make Florida sweet corn, Mexican mangoes and avocados staples at green grocers. She even helped revive the demand for radishes and celery.

“She normalized what might once have been considered exotic,” Produce News, an industry journal, wrote when Ms. Fial retired in 2011 as the president of Lewis & Neale, a public relations firm that represented food growers and manufacturers.

Ms. Fial died in Manhattan on Thursday, her son, Jonathan, said. She was 87. The cause was complications of the coronavirus, he said.

She is also survived by her daughter, Alison Fial; her sister, Lynne Winters; six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Bernice Anita Janet Zicht was born on Nov. 17, 1932, in Brooklyn to Rhoda Bachmuth (Duss) Zicht, a bookkeeper, and Harry Zicht, a radio repairman. She married Allen Fial, who died in 1999.

After graduating from James Madison High School, she overcame her father’s resistance to the idea that women should attend college and earned a bachelor of science degree in home economics from Cornell University in 1954.

She joined Lewis & Neale that year as a test kitchen assistant. The firm over the course of her career there would come to represent the Florida Tomato Committee, the Florida Fresh Corn Association, the American Mushroom Council, the Dairy Council and the American Spice Trade Association, among other groups.

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