In 1876, bananas were introduced to Americans. A mere 17 years later, advice was being given on how to clean russet shoes (finished but not blackened leather) by using a ripe banana. This article was published in The Fowlerville Review in 1893:
One of the drawbacks to the wearing of russet shoes is the fact that they so easily take on a rusty look. An easy scheme for keeping them clean and bright is given by one whose own footgear testifies to the value of his plan. He says: 'With a piece of nice, ripe banana, I can not only keep russet shoes clean, but I can keep them polished as well. I simply take a piece of banana and grease the leather with it, and then polish it with a cloth. In this way all the discolorations are removed and a polish is obtain.'
Anyone willing to test this theory 117 years later?