EXCEPTIONS: THE VOID CENTURY
The idea that the devil fruits were only introduced to the world after the Rocks Pirates is kind of a wild idea, I admit. And it seems to contradict things we know. What about Toki and the time time fruit? What about Big Mom, who got her soul fruit in childhood, before Rocks Pirates ever formed?
I think I have some potential answers there. Firstly, with Big Mom. As I said, I don’t think its crazy to believe that the Celestial Dragons gave devil fruits to their agents to help them maintain control. Mother Caramel was working for the World Government, that may be how she got her devil fruit. You’ll notice that the general public referred to her abilities as “magic” or even divine power. Devil fruits weren’t common knowledge at this time, they were very rare.
That devil fruit was passed on to Big Mom by chance (and incredible violence). I think it’s possible that other devil fruits unintentionally got out of the World Government’s hands this way, just not enough that it would actually be a threat to the World Government before the God Valley Incident.
And now, with Toki. She is from the Void Century. What if part of the big secret that the World Government is hiding about the Void Century is the fact that everyone had access to the devil fruits? But the 20 Kingdoms were intimidated by the idea that just anyone could have access to these fantastical powers, or they wanted this power for themselves, or whatever. So they waged war to control the Devil Fruit Tree (or perhaps trees). And they gradually gathered all the powers into their own hands.
But some devil fruits were out of their reach. Toki, who escaped their devil fruit hunt by jumping into the future. Or even Enel’s lightning devil fruit, that was high in the sky, out of the Government’s reach, passed down since the time of the Void Century (speculation—but isn’t it interesting how prevalent the mythology of God is on the Sky Island, and how the Ark Maxim seemed to be made with the lightning fruit in mind?).
I’m sure there are other devil fruits that could have similarly slipped through the Government’s fingers…Brook’s revive devil fruit for example. You’ll notice that that Rumbar Pirates, like the Roger Pirates, also had very few devil fruit users.
*Theory by awkward_blah56