Apples, branded and trademarked

The Vox video embedded above tracks the rise of the branded apples that have been popping up in supermarkets over the last decade or so -- you know, SweeTango, Zestar, Kanzi, even Pink Lady (which is a branded version of an old apple called Cripps Pink).

Two of these sorts of new-school apples were developed by Cornell: the SnapDragon and Ruby Frost.

These new branded varieties are also known as "club" apples and they're production and marketing is usually licensed by a single entity, which an NPR story looked a few years ago, raises some issues for apple growers.

One of the important threads of this story that the Vox video doesn't really touch on is that the universe of apple varieties is huge -- there have been literally thousands of varieties of apples. It's just that many varieties fell out of favor because they didn't fit into the modern supermarket system because of the way they look, or they way they keep, or some other issue with standardization. (The inverse of that: the dreaded Red Delicious, which fits a lot of the modern requirements but generally tastes bad.)

We're lucky to have a bunch of apple orchards in this region. And many of those orchards grow a large variety of apples, both old-school varieties and some of the newer varieties. Examples: Bowman in Rexford grows almost 50 different varieties and Samascott in Kinderhook grows something like 80 varieties (we've seen the spreadsheet).

So it's worth stopping by these orchards and asking for something different or unusual. Not all of the old or unusual apples are great, but some of them are interesting and you might find a new favorite.

Step away from the Honeycrisp
This is our annual reminder that Honeycrisp are overrated. Get yourself an apple like one of those SnapDragons from Cornell -- still has the crunchy texture, but it actually tastes like something more than water.

+ Beyond boring apples
+ Growing a wider variety of flavors for cider
+ Lost and found apples


Word of the day: Cripps Pink.

For a great history of the apple in the U.S. (not to mention Johnny Appleseed's role in planting ), see Michael Pollan's chapter in his book The Botany of Desire. Cider was a huge early apple product, which took care of two problems: bad water and bad apples. The content of discussion on the endless varieties of apples (and the preservation of various types in Geneva, New York) was something entirely new to me.

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