Size-grading is compulsory for whole, stoned (pitted), stuffed and halved olives. In a sample of 100 olives of any particular size, the difference in the horizontal diameters of the olives must not exceed 4 millimeters, excluding the olive with the largest diameter and the one with the smallest.
|and so on
Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Codex Standard for Table Olives.
Codex Stan 66-1981 (Rev. 1-1987)
Names, many apparently influenced by the American names, have become attached to some of these size grades. Note that a name may have a different meaning than it does in the United States, For example, in Europe there are between 121 and 140 olives in a kilogram of Colossal olives, while in the United States a kilogram of Colossal olives contains between 70 and 90 olives.
Olive size in the United States is based on the number of olives per pound.
To bring order to a welter of sizes used by individual packers, on 27 June 1917, the California Olive Association adopted the following sizes:¹
|# per pound||120-135||105-120||90-105||75-90||65-75||55-65||45-55||35-45|
1. Canning Age, vol 1(?), no. 12 (January 1921), page 35.
If the American names of olive sizes have a faintly Cecil B. DeMille ring to them, it is because the names originated at the same time and place. According to a family story, Frank C. Bliss, an employee of Curtis, a Long Beach, California advertising agency hired to conduct an advertising campaign for olives, chose the names Jumbo, Colossal, and Mammoth – terms commonly being used to hype movies in those days. European producers use similar terms but with different meanings.
|Size:||Small||Medium||Large||Extra Large||Jumbo||Colossal||Super Colossal|
|# per lb:||128–140||106–121||91–105||65–88||51–60||41-50||< 41|
|16-17||17-19||19-20||20-22||22-24||24-26||26 and over|
USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service,
United States Standards for Grades of Canned Ripe Olives.
[42 FR 38585, July 29, 1977, as amended at 46 FR 39564, Aug. 4, 1981. Redesignated at 46 FR 63203, Dec. 31, 1981, and amended at 48 FR 41012, Sept. 13, 1983.]
This is at odds with more recent regulations regarding California olives:
|Count per pound|
|Variety group 1||Variety group 2|
|*Extra Large Sevillano "L"||76-88|
|*Extra Large Sevillano "C"||65-75|
|Super Colossal||32 or fewer||32 or fewer||32 or fewer||32 or fewer|
Tolerances are set by variety of olive.
7 CFR Ch. IX (1-1-07 Edition) §932.152.
|(smaller than Sub-Petite)||221 or more||more than 420|
|Petite or Midget||0||141–180||300–400|
|Small or Select or Standard||1||128–140||280-300|
|Colossal||8||33 to 41||70-90|
|Super Colossal||9||32 or less||60–70|
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,
United States Standards for Green Olives.
Effective September 8, 1967.
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Last revised: 29 July 2011.