Pineapple Express: Which Came First, The Strain or The Movie?

The cult 2008 movie stars Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Its popularity aside, Pineapple Express is one of the most unique hybrid cannabis strains around, in that it boasts both medicinal and recreational uses. What’s more, it’s famous. Unlike many other strains, Pineapple Express is well-known beyond the ranks of cannabis aficionados, and not just by name. Thanks to its namesake movie, even people who steer clear of cannabis can tell you its exact 60:40 sativa to indica ratio and describe its fruity, earthy aroma and flavour profile.

Wait… there’s a movie?

If you were under the tender age of 10 in the 2000s or are simply a weed devotee who’s been living under a rock, you might like to know that the origin of Pineapple Express has a lot to do with a 2008 cult classic of the same name. The movie stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, and features a simple comedic plot anyone can get behind.

Our movie protagonist (Rogen), a stoner, drops his joint in a panic in the process of fleeing the scene of a gangland murder he witnessed. The uniqueness of the weed (Pineapple Express) left at the scene is promptly traced back to the protagonist’s dealer (Franco), and hilarity ensues as the two go on the lam with a drug lord and his crooked policemen in hot pursuit.

If you happen to be partial to Pineapple Express, which is frequently sourced to create some of the most popular cannabis cartridges and best quality terpene products, ponder the novelty of enjoying the strain while watching the movie the next time you and yours get together. If nothing else, it certainly belongs on the bucket list of anyone who enjoys the strain on a regular basis.

There’s been an ongoing chicken or the egg-style debate among Pineapple Express lovers as to whether the movie or the highly popular strain came out first. In this post, we settle this debate for good, as well as explore the origins of the strain’s name and its unique appeal among cannabis connoisseurs.

Exhibit A: Rogen’s Own Testimony

In a 2014 interview for Denver, Colorado’s The Everyday Show, Rogen was quoted as saying that he and Pineapple Express co-writer Evan Goldberg developed the strain as part of the production process for the movie. Speaking to host Chris Parente, Rogen said “We named it after our movie when we created it. There was no Pineapple Express weed before the movie.”

Are his claims credible? Absolutely. Rogen and Goldberg are actually much more educated on weed than they let on. For one thing, they literally rolled every joint featured in the movie. And unbeknownst to many cannabis enthusiasts, they have their own cannabis brand Houseplant, which is a joint venture with Canada’s Canopy Growth started in 2019.

Since the launch of their weed brand, Rogen and Goldberg have played roles in the development of numerous other strains, including Houseplant sativa, Pink Moon, Pancake Ice and Diablo Wind. Considering their level of cannabis know-how, it’s not hard to believe they would develop Pineapple Express specifically for a stoner movie.

Exhibit B: A Confirmatory Google Trends Search

Doing a search on Google Trends, you can see practically no queries or interest in the phrase “pineapple express” until late in 2007 — the year the test screens for the movie first became available to the public. The negligible amount of search volume indicated before then can be explained in the origin of the name chosen by Rogen and Goldberg, which is a link to the nomenclature around weather events that we’ll cover in the next section.

If, however, you choose to get specific with your Google Trends search and input terms like “pineapple express strain” or “pineapple express weed,” you can see an absolute zero in terms of internet activity until the movie’s release.

Origin of Nomenclature

If you’re into meteorology or watch your fair share of shows on the Discovery Network, you’ll have noticed by now that Rogen and Goldberg enjoy naming their original strains and hybrids after specific weather events. Pineapple Express is no exception. Before the phrase was popularised by the movie, Pineapple Express was the name for a weather phenomenon wherein wind picks up moisture from the Hawaiian Islands and ferries it over to the western coasts of the United States.

Pineapple Express is one of several weather phenomena categorised as “atmospheric rivers” — so called because it describes long, narrow atmospheric regions transporting water vapour out of the tropics before dumping it in the form of precipitation in other regions, making landfall as either rain or snow.

It’s likely Rogen and Goldberg picked the name for their strain as an appropriate nod to their own importation of sweet, dank, pineapple flavours into the pallets of cannabis consumers across the Americas and beyond.