Timmy Wipperman can be seen sporting a banana costume at most Leesville events. Wipperman has become synonymous with the yellow fruit over the last seven years, starting in middle school. What started as a simple appreciation has become an integral part of Wipperman’s identity.
“Throughout the course of my life, I’ve always had a great attraction to the banana. It’s always been my favorite food, especially among fruits,” said Wipperman.
Bananas are an edible fruit, technically a berry according to taxonomists. Bananas originated in southeast Asia and were first domesticated in Papua New Guinea as a source of carbohydrates. In modern times, the majority of bananas are grown in Central America, with Hawaii being the only state to commercially produce them.
For Wipperman, the banana has an endless list of perfect qualities.
“Every aspect of the banana is perfect. The texture makes my mouth feel like it’s experienced every single sensation there is. It just falls apart in your mouth. You can eat it from the top, from the bottom. You can even peel it a bunch of different ways. And don’t even get me started on the taste. The taste is just out of this world. Whether the banana is green or at its ripest–even if it’s black, it’s still great,” said Wipperman.
According to the National Institutes of Health, bananas are high in potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and can even guard against depression and kidney cancer due to relatively large amounts of tryptophan. Eaten in moderation, the yellow fruit provides carbs and vitamins without any fat, cholesterol, or sodium. However, if possible, Wipperman would make one alteration:
“This has been my twitter bio for all four years of high school: ‘If we could genetically engineer bananas to contain large amounts of protein, it would create world peace.’ It really would,” said Wipperman.
Wipperman has always loved bananas, but his motif truly began in middle school. Wipperman met his current friend group in sixth grade, and the whole banana situation became an identity. It slowly accelerated as he picked up banana clothing, banana ties, and banana hats. Moving towards high school, he started to try cooking with bananas, things like boiling them or making banana bread. People began to notice his fascination with bananas, buying him banana-themed gifts. One year, he received a three foot long inflatable banana for his birthday–the banana was promptly placed in his car and drove around with him, buckled into the seat.
“One day, tragedy struck. I parked my car and left the banana in the passenger seat; when I came back from Tropical Smoothie, it was gone,” said Wipperman.
Over time, Wipperman became the Banana Man.
“People thought it was funny, and I’m generally a nice guy, so it’s something I was able to do–just a cool guy with a funny quirk,” said Wipperman.
Wipperman is a banana-consuming machine. His numbers range around fifteen a week–that’s 780 bananas a year, 5,460 bananas since middle school. His eating habits are well known–his friends know to stock up on bananas before he comes over.
“Another reason I like bananas is that they’re relatively cheap. Oftentimes, I’ll just go out to the store and buy a bunch. I never get tired of them they–they always fill me up and I’ll never stop liking them,” said Wipperman.
After I bribed him with a banana, Wipperman agreed to sit down and tell me his best banana-related memories.
“Many, many moons ago, my friends and I would go to the mall on Black Friday. We wouldn’t go shopping–we’d just grab every banana from the various stores and walk around eating them, just messing around,” said Wipperman.
Wipperman’s first major public appearance as a banana came at the Krispy Kreme Challenge. He dressed up as the yellow fruit and ran the 5-mile race, including eating the dozen donuts. The next year, he and a close friend dressed up, and took selfies with as many other banana-enthusiast-turned-runners as possible.
“People were quite surprised, but they enjoyed it,” said Wipperman.
One of the best stories was about a deal, with payment in bananas. Wipperman agreed to help a classmate with his Spanish homework, for the cost of twenty bananas. The classmate jokingly agreed, not expecting Wipperman to hold him to it. A week later–still without payment–Wipperman introduced a banana-a-day interest on the payment. Weeks later, the interest increased.
Then one day, the classmate brought in a duffel bag.
“I thought it was for gym, or his sports team, but he slams it on the table and unzips it–and it’s just mounds and mounds of bananas. I had no idea what to do with all of these, or if we even had room in the freezer for all 100,” said Wipperman.
Wipperman texted his mother and secured space at his house. He ate his way through the huge supply, eating some and saving more for later.
“I had a supply of banana bread for a good two or three months after that,” said Wipperman.
Wipperman’s junior year, Leesville football played at home on Halloween. The obvious costume choice for Wipperman and his friends? Bananas. During halftime, the seniors called the banana-clad boys down to the front of the stands.
“We did the ‘Go Bananas’ cheer, which for an underclassmen was amazing.
Everybody wanted to take pictures with us,” said Wipperman.
Wipperman’s role in leading the Pride in cheers continued to senior year. His senior year, the only Leesville students to show up to a football game in Wake Forest were Wipperman and two friends–dressed, of course, as bananas.
“We had BANANA written on our faces and went crazy,” said Wipperman. During his senior Homecoming pep rally, Wipperman led the crowd in the ‘Go Bananas’ cheer while wearing his senior crown, decorated with–you guessed it–bananas.
Bananas have even entered into Wipperman’s academic life.
For a project in Spanish 2, he had to record and present his daily routine. Instead of submitting a normal recording of his daily life, Wipperman decided to step it up. He took photos of himself shaving with bananas, brushing his teeth with a banana, and even combing his hair with a banana.
Wipperman has even taken banana cuisine a step further than most people. Not content with banana sandwiches or banana bread, Wipperman brought bananas to the camp fire. Camped in a friend’s backyard, with a Boy Scout friend to build the fire, he tried boiling, roasting, baking, and toasting bananas over an open flame.
“Last year, I did a classic–blew up some red balloons, taped up ‘PROM’ on her garage, and made it all classy and formal. This year, as a senior, I had to do something banana themed,” said Wipperman.
Playing on his role as Banana King, Wipperman enlisted the help of three friends to build a yellow litter–a banana-themed throne to carry him. Then, one morning, with all four in banana costumes, Wipperman was carried out wearing his crown, holding an inflatable banana with the promposal to his girlfriend written on it. Wipperman gave his girlfriend a banana-themed tiara, crowning her his Banana Queen in the most legendary fruit-related promposal ever seen.
Wipperman left me with a few pieces of wisdom to finish our interview.
- “Bananas are top tier. Everything else is beneath them.”
- “Plantains are second to bananas, but still wonderful.”
- “If you love bananas, don’t care what people think. If you love bananas, own it–maybe one day you’ll be like me.”