This is a thing that's happening very fast, in apple terms.
December 1, 2008 7:21 PM   Subscribe

How the Honeycrisp apple went from being nearly discarded to one of the tastiest best-named apples of all time -- NYTimes says "the iPod of apples" -- and more about the patenting and branding of apples.
"[D]uring its time of evaluation, Honeycrisp, being a beautiful but partially-colored apple, effectively waited in the wings until the big stage was set. I'm not saying the University would not have introduced Honeycrisp against the tide of Red and Golden. I don't know that. It just takes years to get to the point of taking the leap, and maybe 1991 would have been the leaping point regardless of the current. But there's no doubt Honeycrisp jumped into a very favorable current, one that had been started with Granny Smith and had gained irreversible momentum with Gala and Fuji. Its time had come.

But even when your time has come, if you're an apple, it'll still be a while. There are millions of Honeycrisp trees in the ground right now, but a production ranking is nowhere in sight. Like Gala, Honeycrisp will take a few more years before it climbs out of the "All Others" category.

So, if you're David Bedford, and you evaluated a variety for many years until 1991 and then released it, and it's been out now for well over a decade and it's still in "All Others," you've done a wonderful job. That's just the speed of this game. Honeycrisp is on a meteoric rise. This is a thing that's happening very fast, in apple terms."
posted by jessamyn (109 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
I first had a honeycrisp a few years ago in NYC. I ate one every day for a week on my walk to a particular job. I could not find one for 2 years afterward and it made me sad. Now I can find them more easily. That makes me happy-

-in ways you would only understand if you have eaten a honeycrisp.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:27 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]

But, hey, if you had what you thought of as the apple business (tree-grown division) version of the iPod in your orchards, maybe you would get a little overly excited, too.

That's a sentence in the New York Times?

Is it too late for to get nominated for this year's Most Tortured Turn of Phrase award?
posted by rokusan at 7:28 PM on December 1, 2008

mathowie gets props for inspiring this post.
posted by jessamyn at 7:34 PM on December 1, 2008

Oh! Honeycrisps are certainly my favorite out-of-hand apple. Very cool story, thanks!
posted by peachfuzz at 7:36 PM on December 1, 2008

I'll stick to grapples, thank you very much.
posted by gman at 7:36 PM on December 1, 2008

to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, honeycrisp apples are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
posted by Lucinda at 7:36 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm not saying I'd cut someone for a Honeycrisp, but I'm not not saying that, either.

Honeycrisps actually made me realize I like apples. I hadn't had one in years, the memory of too many mealy Red Delicious apples keeping me from trying any more. Now I've spent two very happy autumns exploring the offerings of the apple farmers at my local farmers' market. Nom nom.
posted by sugarfish at 7:47 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

the memory of too many mealy Red Delicious apples keeping me from trying any more.

That's the problem with apples. The ones that keep and travel well, and have a relatively long season, all taste of nothing at all. The really good ones generally bruise easily, keep for no time, stay in the shops for a week or two before the season is over.

Do they sell these Honeycrisps in the UK? I've never seen one in the shops. I like apples too, but I rarely eat them because I hate the tasteless imported crap we mostly get in shops and supermarkets.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:53 PM on December 1, 2008

I just added some Honeycrisps to my shopping cart. They cost twice as much as Braeburns, but what the hell, I might as well try them once.
posted by grouse at 7:54 PM on December 1, 2008

I hate Red Delicious apples. I really loathe them. They don't even taste like apples to me, they're so bland and boring. Honeycrisps, on the other hand... oh man. They're awesome, and they're more widely available here than Mutsus (an ok Golden Delicious cross that is also nice for cooking).

Honeycrisps cook really well, they hold their shape nicely -- we had an apple cake with slivers of apples arranged tart-style on top...all Honeycrisps.

And now I wish I was back in Massachusetts so I could go up to Poverty Lane Orchards and get some Kingston Black varietal cider.

I am an apple snob. But a good apple is better than just about any other fruit save cherries in season.
posted by at 7:56 PM on December 1, 2008

These apples make great crisps. Just saying.

And loved this sentence: "As the University of Minnesota's chief apple breeder, Bedford is tasked with finding the genetic gems among the nearly 20,000 trees in the horticulture department's orchards through a process that involves tasting about 500 or 600 apples a day."

And you thought your job was shitty!
posted by cjorgensen at 8:09 PM on December 1, 2008

First the delicata squash hash browns, now Honeycrisp apples. I will buy these when I see them. Heck, I'm tempted to go to the store right now which is saying something because I was nearly out for the night about a half hour ago.

But we're lucky here, I live in the town where Martinelli apple juice is made (we're also the strawberry capital of the universe). Fresh local apples are available here for a really good long time.
posted by fenriq at 8:10 PM on December 1, 2008

They are expensive, but worth it.
posted by popechunk at 8:10 PM on December 1, 2008

If you get tired of eating them you can drink them.
posted by Xurando at 8:17 PM on December 1, 2008

My new favourite apple name: Yellow Transparent.
posted by zamboni at 8:17 PM on December 1, 2008

I only eat good ol' Johnny McIntosh apples!
posted by autodidact at 8:24 PM on December 1, 2008

Oh yeah, Xurando! I almost forgot -- I found some Honeycrisp cider this fall and it was beyond awesome. Seriously full flavored, yet clear-to-yellow colored (not the usual deeper brown color of most fresh ciders).
posted by at 8:27 PM on December 1, 2008

Honeycrisp apples are my favorite of all.

They have an .org

Also worth tasting: Sonata apples [scroll down]. Very much a counterpoint to Honeycrisp's brighter, tart flavor and crispy flesh, Sonatas are just as sweet, but in a mellow, lightly flowery way with softer flesh. I buy them both and switch off.

The ones sold in my farmers' market, however, generally don't have a "whisper" of tartness.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 8:28 PM on December 1, 2008

This post made me smile - I love honeycrisps!
posted by pril at 8:31 PM on December 1, 2008

They are expensive, but worth it.

I just bought a few pounds on sale for $0.88/pound. /gloat

I think of Honeycrisps as being sort of like the Blue Moons of the apple world. Mass market, not as good as the real artisanal stuff, but about a thousand times better than the red delicious/Coors options. So while I prefer to buy a box of just-in-season artisanal apples, at the grocery store I'm happy to buy a Honeycrisps rather than the depressing other choices.
posted by Forktine at 8:39 PM on December 1, 2008

I love Honeycrisps but they're no Newton Pippins.

Or what Forktine just said...
posted by plastic_animals at 8:43 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

My favourites in the UK are Cox's Orange Pippins, which were seasonal and so something to look forward to. You can probably get them all year round now.
posted by carter at 8:44 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I smelled one of those grapples in the store last week and was so nauseated I almost vomited in the middle of the produce section.

It's not grape flavor. They're injected with that same awful artificial grape flavor from dentists' fluoride treatment. As if the label's attempts to trick me into thinking it was some grape/apple hybrid were not bad enough.

Bad bad bad.
posted by rokusan at 8:46 PM on December 1, 2008

black twig! andrew jackson's favorite apple! i'm going to go have one now!
posted by judith at 8:50 PM on December 1, 2008

NPR has done a story on honeycrisps as well.
posted by falconred at 8:55 PM on December 1, 2008

Michael Pollan: the call of the wild apple
posted by lalochezia at 9:04 PM on December 1, 2008

The reason y'all don't like Red Dels is that the best ones aren't particularly red. They've got a lot of tan stripe in them. And goldens, well, the rougher the skin, the better the fruit.
posted by notsnot at 9:06 PM on December 1, 2008

As opposed to Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple the Esopus Spitzenberg. Michael Pollan got me jazzed about apples, but being able to taste weird old heirloom varieties at the harvest festival kept me interested.
posted by jessamyn at 9:08 PM on December 1, 2008

Ahhh, honeycrisp, most perfect of apples. How can you be sweet, tart, juicy, crisp, and perfumed with apple flavor all at the same time?
posted by TungstenChef at 9:10 PM on December 1, 2008

I haven't had a honeycrisp yet, but I'll try one now with an open mind if I ever see them. I have had Pink Lady apples, and they are quite yummy. I love a good, tart Granny Smith. I've always hated the "delicious" varieties because they are mealy, without character, and just plain bland.

Back when I was in college, I studied Viticulture and Enology. I want to say it was Dr. Olmo who talked about the raisin industry wanting a larger seedless variety to make raisins from. So he did selective breeding, and came up with a variety, and it never was adopted since the whole industry's infrastructure was geared towards the smaller Thompson Seedless. Just because something is superior in many ways doesn't mean it will be adopted. The food industry is a fickle beast.
posted by Eekacat at 9:40 PM on December 1, 2008

The testing determined for certain that Keepsake, another apple from the University of Minnesota's apple breeding program that was released in 1978, is one of the parents. But, despite extensive searching, the other parent has not been identified. There is no DNA match among any of the varieties that are thought to be possible parents.

Bedford proposed one explanation for the whereabouts of the parent that doesn't seem to exist. "It might be a numbered selection and even discarded by now."

Like a Mexican soap opera, the world of apples is one of passion, betrayal and intrigue.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:41 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

One of 700 lesser varieties temptations listed at All About Apples.
posted by cenoxo at 9:43 PM on December 1, 2008

Heh. I only recently tried the honeycrisp apple, and only because I was curious why they cost 2-5x as much as all the other types. I found out immediately - because they're worth it.

Actually, a number of other kinds are pretty good as well. The red delicious is pretty much the only kind that I declare to be completely without merit, although I understand it's mostly because they get stored way too long before sale.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:51 PM on December 1, 2008

It figures that a guy named Applebome would get such a... er, plum assignment like that. I'm going to change my last name to Barbecue and get a job at the New York Times.
posted by emelenjr at 9:53 PM on December 1, 2008

About a month ago I was bemoaning the tastelessness of red delicious apples to the produce guy at my local grocery store, and he told me that a significant portion of the best red delicious apples are exported to Japan, so we usually only get the leftovers in the grocery stores here in Washington state. He hooked me up with some new crop, top quality red delicious apples, and much to my surprise they were quite tasty. Still not as good as many other varieties, but I now know that red delicious apples are not always bland, mealy hunks of yuck.

He also suggested I try the organic Ambrosia apples he had on hand. They were even more expensive than the Honeycrisps, but they were fabulously delicious.

Now I need to find some honeycrisp cider. That sounds heavenly.
posted by Balonious Assault at 9:57 PM on December 1, 2008

Honey Crisp apples in Honey Crisp cereal sounds so, so good.
posted by not_on_display at 10:22 PM on December 1, 2008

It really disturbs me to pay a buck-fifty or so for a single apple, but goddamn the honeycrisps are worth it. A nice crisp granny smith or macintosh is good too, but somehow the novelty of the honeycrisp flavour will entice me to buy them whereas I'd very rarely buy the others.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:52 PM on December 1, 2008

@Forktine hit the nail on the head:

Honeycrisp apples : apples :: Blue Moon : beer
posted by pkingdesign at 10:53 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Honeycrisps apparently make people stupid (from veggieboy's Fruit Slinger blog).

Speaking of trademarked, really expensive apples, $2 Jazz apples just might be worth it. In a couple of years they could be the next Honeycrisp.
posted by parudox at 11:26 PM on December 1, 2008

OKay, never had a Honeycrisp, never seen one. I eat Galas, mostly. Tell me my problems and fortunes.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:00 AM on December 2, 2008

And I like them better than Jazz and Ambrosia.

Okay, I would like them best WITH Jazz and, ahem, obviously I would be there, but you know what I mean zippitybop.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:01 AM on December 2, 2008

Mutsus (aka Crispins) are, by far, the tastiest and most perfect apples I have yet eated.
posted by Auden at 1:53 AM on December 2, 2008

Interesting post. I love apples, and when I was growing up in the midwest my favorite was the Jonathan. It's the crisp/tart/sweet that gets me every time. When we moved to the northeast I could never find them. Then an acquaintance who grew up in an apple orchard turned me on to Macouns. They rival the Jonathan for taste, have a nice crispness and are less acidic. The only downside is they seem to have a really short selling season up here, and the yields are inconsistent from year to year. I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the Macoun is one of the parents of the Honeycrisp.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:29 AM on December 2, 2008

I'm growing Fiesta apples at the moment - a cross between a Cox's Orange Pippin and the american Idared - and they're absolutely wonderful. There are very few things as good as a perfectly-chilled apple fresh from the tree on an autumn morning.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:26 AM on December 2, 2008

Yeah, apples with artificial grape flavor are so far superior to anything without artificial grape flavor.

Dude, I know! They smell like grape Kool-Aid through the cellophane packaging. In fact, they cover up all the nasty smells in my fridge. It's the best.
posted by gman at 3:38 AM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

My favourites in the UK are Cox's Orange Pippins, which were seasonal and so something to look forward to.

The all-year-round supermarket Cox doesn't seem to have the flavour that I remember from the past. I'm not sure why this should be. But if you know anyone with a few trees in their garden, they really are the king of apples. The supermarket variety is pretty good when combined with Bramleys in an apple pie though. The mix of the two types (I use two thirds Bramley to one part Cox, as recommended by St. Delia) makes the best apple pies of all.

I'm also very fond of the Egremont Russet -- which almost has the flavour and texture of a pear, while retaining the crispness of an apple. But you don't really see them much any more. I don't think I've ever seen one in a supermarket.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:49 AM on December 2, 2008

Whoa. I'm eating a Honeycrisp for breakfast right now.
posted by gaspode at 3:53 AM on December 2, 2008

I've had Egremont Russets a couple of times this year and have been disappointed - they were pretty bland. I think I've just been unlucky (or it's been a bad year for them), because everything I've read says they're a fantastic apple. I'm fairly sure I saw some in Asda (of all places) a few months ago - which is hopefully a sign that people are starting to demand proper apples.

Does anyone know if Honeycrisp apples can be sourced (either as fruit or as a tree) in the UK? I'd love to try them.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:58 AM on December 2, 2008

Nice. The Ministry of Ag in Ontario has a sheet on them. I'm glad to find so many other picky apple eaters. I only touch granny smith as I can't stand the rest, but am looking forward to the first prospect of a good new apple in a long time.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:21 AM on December 2, 2008

A few months after buying my new house, I planted a Honeycrisp and a Golden Delicious semi-dwarf. From these two trees, thanks to the miracle of grafting, I'll be picking 6 varieties of apples next summer.

Anyone who has room and plans to live in one place for more than 5 years should grow a couple apple trees. For a minimal amount of work you get shocking numbers of amazingly good apples (if you choose appropriate varieties for your climate).
posted by Patapsco Mike at 5:09 AM on December 2, 2008

Red delicious are delicious if they haven't been bred to survive a thousand miles in a truck. Buy local apples from your local apple grower; you will have awesome apples, no matter the variety, that will not cost you a small fortune, and you will support sustainable living. (Central Ohioans, please visit Lynd's fruit farm in Pataskala).
posted by Kwine at 5:15 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Variety in apples is good. Also, in my experience, the difference between an organic apple and a 'normal' one is about 5 times the flavour.

Very luckily for me, I live within 10 minutes of a municipal apple orchard that has more than 6 varieties. I usually eat them from late August to February as they keep well, even if they dry out a bit they just get tastier!

You have to be quick as the birds like to eat the local varieties, they tend to leave the golden delicious and gala looking ones. Unfortunately, the cooking apple tree that I found some years ago has become quite popular and was denuded very rapidly this year.

I haven't seen any honeycrisp apples here, but I shall keep an eye out for them.

On preview - Papapsco Mike, I am jealous!
posted by asok at 5:19 AM on December 2, 2008

I look forward to my first honeycrisp... but if I had to give that name to an apple I'd tried already, it would have to be the McIntosh variants Spartan or Empire. Those are good apples.
posted by anthill at 5:33 AM on December 2, 2008

I tried Honeycrisps after hearing the NPR story falconred linked and have loved them ever since; I had one for breakfast earlier. I have tried other upscale varieties, but haven't found anything as good. I typically only see them in the fall, so they are definitely a seasonal item for me. After reading this thread I may try to polant my own tree.
posted by TedW at 5:35 AM on December 2, 2008

I just discovered the Honeycrisp this year and it is now my favorite apple. It is expensive though. I haven't made a pie with it yet, since no matter how many I bring home they all get eaten to soon.
posted by RussHy at 5:48 AM on December 2, 2008

Feh. I'll stick to my Winesaps -- I like 'em tart and very crunchy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on December 2, 2008

Huh. The town of Chazy, mentioned in the NYT article, is my hometown. I didn't realize the orchard grew anything other than Macintoshes. I'll have to get some Honeycrisps when I'm home for Christmas.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:00 AM on December 2, 2008

EmpressCallipygos, I like 'em tart and super-crunchy, too. Staymans have been my discovery of the year. One (only one!) local orchard has them, and they're astoundingly good. Even better than a Winesap - a friend and I did a side-by-side taste test.
posted by bassjump at 7:11 AM on December 2, 2008

Apples by Roger Yepsen
(be sure to click the "more" link in the 'Selected pages' section - many more beautiful images to see)
posted by jammy at 7:12 AM on December 2, 2008

If you like Honeycrisp, you might also like Cortland. We get bushels of these every fall from a local orchard and they have a lot of the same qualities that people love in the Honeycrisp.

Crisp, sweet-tart, hold up well when cooked, great raw- their only downfall is that they don't don't keep quite as well as the Honeycrisp, even in the fridge. (But the pies freeze beautifully!)
posted by headspace at 7:42 AM on December 2, 2008

I like 'em. They're not my favorite. (Which is probably the mutsu! I'm glad to see I'm not alone.)

I read something interesting about the Red Delicious problem: the idea is that the supermarket red delicious is a victim of the popularity of the variety. When they were "discovered" by the mass market, growers scrambled to produce deep red specimens and those selection pressures drove out other qualities that we care about, like taste and texture. Here's the article.
posted by grobstein at 8:06 AM on December 2, 2008

I guess I'm the only person here who doesn't like Honeycrisps. The last one I had was too sweet and kinda mealy.

I'll stick with Fuji and Gala, thanks.
posted by dw at 8:08 AM on December 2, 2008

My object empathy always kicks in something fierce when I see Golden or Red Delicious apples for sale, because I don't find them delicious and something in me gets very sad when I consider the designation. The apples are called "delicious", they must be very hopeful and confident in their deliciousness, but I do not agree... have the apples failed me, or have I failed the apples?

But all is well once I get a Granny Smith and happily go munching on my way. For some reason I don't treat that apple name literally and perhaps that's for the best.
posted by Spatch at 8:22 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Granny Smith FTW.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:24 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Rambo apple will blow up your apple and spit out the seeds.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:29 AM on December 2, 2008

In honor of this thread I bought a Pink Lady and an Empire this morning. The Empire was on sale for $1/lb, and the Pink Lady for ~2.50/lb.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:29 AM on December 2, 2008

Can I find these fellas in London? I'm a Braeburn man, through and through, but am always interested in trying something new.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 8:33 AM on December 2, 2008

No love for the Arkansas Black? Fie. But I do love the Honey Crisps. If you like a little tartness, try the Pink Ladies.
posted by jquinby at 8:36 AM on December 2, 2008

As a kid I was ALL ABOUT the Granny Smiths. Still am, when I can find good ones. I hate overly sweet apples.
posted by at 8:46 AM on December 2, 2008

Had to get this far down the page to see my old friend the Winesap* The best apple I ever had was a Winesap from an apple orchard in the California foothills. One bite and I bought a crate full to take home. Sweet, spicy, crunchy with a nice tartness. Since Winesaps are so rare, I usually make do with Granny Smith-- none of the sweetness, but you still have the tart/crunch.

*Note that the website is promoting CandyCrisp apples now: "CandyCrisp® is 100% Sugar, no acid and is one of the juciest (sic) apples we have ever bit into! Picked at just the right time CandyCrisp® has what is described as a very distinctive Pear flavor or what we call Papple™" Feh. The American palate is infantalized beyond redemption.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:47 AM on December 2, 2008

I was just about to share my love of the Arkansas Black, jquinby. I recently discovered them at the Hollywood Farmer's Market, and they've wiped away any memory that I might have once had of any other baking apple. Every weekend is now filled with apple crisps.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:49 AM on December 2, 2008

I just went out to grab lunch and swung by my neighborhood grocery store. A produce clerk was filling up a huge display of Honeycrisps that had just arrived. They were one of about 15 varieties available -- and all priced at $1.99/lb.
posted by ericb at 8:54 AM on December 2, 2008

Brings to mind an earlier FPP: Beyond the McIntosh. The apple whisperer of New England.
posted by ericb at 9:00 AM on December 2, 2008

Marisa, aren't all soap operas about passion, betrayal and intrigue? Sure, the Mexican ones seem more volatile than other varieties, but it's not a soap if someone's not buried alive at least once a season.

Re: Grapples - I bought a four-pack on a whim, and the scent is as good as it gets. The combination of fake grape and real apple is just too weird. It makes me think of carbonated fruit. Interesting idea, spooky in reality.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am yet another apple snob who turns their nose up at red delicious apples. I've had Honeycrisps in the past and they were wonderful so when I saw some at the grocery store a couple weeks ago I picked some up. I went to eat one and it was awful! It had very little flavor except kind of a vinegary taste and the texture was all weird. I guess that's what I get for not buying my apples at the farmer's market. This year Macouns have been my apple of choice.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 9:12 AM on December 2, 2008

Marisa, aren't all soap operas about passion, betrayal and intrigue? Sure, the Mexican ones seem more volatile than other varieties, but it's not a soap if someone's not buried alive at least once a season.

You're absolutely right, now that I think about it. But the parallels between apples and soap operas don't end there; both feature dramatic names. Just as among apples you have Red Delicious or Black Twig, in soap operas all the male characters have these impossible Palinesque names like Ridge or Thorn.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:20 AM on December 2, 2008

I work for an orchard that grows HoneyCrisps. The season is now all but over and I am very glad that my job no longer involves dealing with the rabid, HoneyCrisp-seeking hordes that descend upon the farmstand starting in August.

Thank you for the shout out, parudox. I've already said about as much as I can stand on the subject. And then some.
posted by veggieboy at 9:22 AM on December 2, 2008

Nah, dw, it's not just you. I bought a 5-lb. bag of honeycrisps at the farmers market a few weeks ago and ended up giving most of them away to a friend, because I didn't like them. Give me a Macintosh or (as mentioned above) one of the Pippin varieties any day.
posted by fuzzbean at 9:32 AM on December 2, 2008

Compared to the Royal Gala sold at orchards in Southern Ontario in early fall (in Ostrander, they're $5 for 10lb!), Honeycrisps have all the appeal of styrofoam soaked in vinegar.
posted by scruss at 10:28 AM on December 2, 2008 The Kingston Black is sort of overrated -- it's more that it's noteworthy that a decent single-variety cider can be made at all, than that it's the best cider anywhere ever. Like the dog walking upright of popular legend.

Not that I'd throw a bottle or two off my dinner table or anything. But I like their extra-dry better, personally.
posted by rusty at 10:28 AM on December 2, 2008

I love boskoop apples but haven't found them here in the States. Every apple I eat I compare to them and have found the Sommerfeld apple to be a decent substitute. Not the same though.
posted by fiercekitten at 12:45 PM on December 2, 2008

I was eating a local organic Red Delicious while reading this post... and I was tempted to paraphrase Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet:

Honeycrisp!?! Fuck that shit! Red Delicious!

But I want this to be a respectful debate.

My thanks to all those above who are keeping the truth about Red Delicious available to those who haven't been mesmerized by goldencrisp fanboy boosterism.

You are truly Knights of the Faith, to the core.
posted by slickvaguely at 1:31 PM on December 2, 2008

Nah, dw, it's not just you.

See, fuzzbean, that's what moving to Seattle will do to you.

I forgot the Cameo, my other other favorite that's an accidental cross between the Red Delicious and the Golden Delicious (and seems to have the best of both worlds).
posted by dw at 1:32 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

My apple experience:

1. Golden Delicious.
2. The end.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:37 PM on December 2, 2008

We get Pink Pearls out here sometimes and I like them a bunch as well. Oddly I also like Blue Moon beer so perhaps I have a fondness for pseudo-indie strains.
posted by jessamyn at 2:34 PM on December 2, 2008

Yes. Why not just call it a Butterfinger, cover it in toffee and caramel, and remove the apple party?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:28 PM on December 2, 2008

ugh. -y.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:29 PM on December 2, 2008

Rambo apples gut the bad guy at the end.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:03 PM on December 2, 2008

And I'm reminded of the other link I like to post when apple varieties come up: Harold McGee piece on apples (and the many many non-mass-cultivated varieties).
posted by grobstein at 5:43 PM on December 2, 2008

I forgot the Cameo, my other other favorite that's an accidental cross between the Red Delicious and the Golden Delicious (and seems to have the best of both worlds).

Just to second, and sing the praises of Cameo--wonderful apple. Will have to try Honeycrisp.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2008

Aren't all soap operas about passion, betrayal and intrigue? Sure, the Mexican ones seem more volatile than other varieties...

Yeah, because [sexist and racist comment deleted]. I mean what did you expect?
posted by rokusan at 6:20 PM on December 2, 2008

I can absolutely vouch for the awesomeness that is a Honeycrisp apple. I bought three today, ate one and didn't want to share the other two because it was so freaking awesome.

A pal has suggested Jazz apples as a worthy contender but I can not imagine a better tasting apple than the Honeycrisp. I'd marry one if I weren't already married.
posted by fenriq at 6:35 PM on December 2, 2008

I think I tried Honeycrisp last season and wasn't wowed enough for it to leave a lasting impression. I'm willing to give them another shot and will pick some up at the store soon.

However, the apple that most recently moved me to broadcast my love for it was - believe it or not - a McIntosh. I had been eating the Fujis and the Galas for so long that I had forgotten how much I love the crispness and especially the tartness of a good old-fashioned McIntosh. I also appreciate that they are just about the perfect size to eat out of hand. Those huge apples are just too big for an afternoon snack sometimes.
posted by misskaz at 7:18 PM on December 2, 2008

On a trip to Halifax a few years ago, I had a stomachache and impulsively bought a random weird apple from a street vendor (apples are a surefire cure for a bloaty stomach). It was the. best. apple. I'd ever tried, and I went back to that vendor and ate two of them a day for the rest of the trip. Turned out they were freshly-picked Gravensteins, and they were phee-nominal, and I've never seen them anywhere since, in Ontario or the US.
I've never had a Honeycrisp, but for sure will keep my eyes peeled now. Anyone know where in Toronto I might find them?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:34 AM on December 3, 2008

Fuckers! Someone fedex me some Honeycrisps! We ain't get no crisps in FLA! Mail's in profile!

[somewhat serious, though I think I will now call up my grocers and annoy them]
posted by cavalier at 5:39 AM on December 3, 2008

I just had my first Honeycrisp. I thought it was okay. I think I prefer Braeburn and Fuji apples though.
posted by grouse at 8:11 PM on December 3, 2008

Mmmm, Honeycrisp... /Homer

First Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution, now Honeycrisp. I couldn't be prouder of the Maroon and Gold.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:21 AM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Inspired by this link, I bought some at the Krogers' (NC) for about 50 cents a piece. I was underwhelmed. Crisp, yes, but somehow less dense then a Granny Smith-- I can see the comparison to Styrofoam. Juicy, yes, but the flavor was sweet with very little apple taste-- almost like a "juice" drink marketed to kids (10% real juice flavor.) This is not the apple I have been looking for.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:30 AM on December 4, 2008

I was underwhelmed.

I think a lot of the glowing reviews come from people who are buying their apples from smaller producers, getting fresher apples of higher quality. As the apple industry is ramping up honeycrisp production, they are doing exactly what they did with the red delicious -- growing big quantity, but meeting only minimal quality constraints. Even a crummy honeycrisp will be better than a terrible red delicious, but a farm-fresh apple is a different beast entirely.

So you late adopters are paying the price of industrial expansion, unless you can find yourself a better producer. Personally, I treat the on-sale honeycrisps from the grocery store as baking apples that are ok to eat in a pinch; for eating I look for stores that source their apples directly and I'll pay a lot more for those.
posted by Forktine at 6:46 AM on December 4, 2008

OK, Forktine, you've convinced me. I will give Honeycrisps another try when I next go to the local co-op with excellent produce. But only because I love apples so damn much.
posted by grouse at 9:00 AM on December 4, 2008

TRIP REPORT: Okay so I went out and got some apples today because this post ahs given me the apple itch. I went to the farmstand and got a cortland, a honeycrisp and some heirloom weirdy called an Ashmeads Kernel which is supposedly "good for nibbling" They all come from the same local orchard. I thought maybe my memories of the honeycrisps were getting all messed up with all the hype. So I had slices of all of them. The Cortland was about as Platonic Apple as it could be, tasty, nice. The Ashmeads Kernel was a sort of cross between a potato and an apple. Great flavor but sort of mealy and it's hard to get over the nubby scaly skin, for me. Apparently they're great for juice. The honeycrisp seemed positively TAUT after that other apple and crunchy and it was as tasty as I remembered it [though... $1.68 pound here]. So I'm gonna go finish it up now, just wanted to let everyone know.
posted by jessamyn at 2:16 PM on December 4, 2008

Honeycrips are so damn big. I tried one; it was nice, but gimme a cute little Fuji for my mid-morning snack, please.
posted by woodway at 6:37 AM on December 5, 2008

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns...

~Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill
posted by woodway at 6:45 AM on December 5, 2008

No love for the Cameo? It's the only one I can find that's consistently crisp and also has a lovely apply flavor. I can't eat an apple that is even the slightest bit mealy. It just makes my skin crawl.

I did try a Honeycrisp once and thought it had a great texture but was too sweet. However, a sample of one probably isn't that reliable. I'll have to try it again.
posted by exceptinsects at 1:51 AM on December 6, 2008

I can't eat an apple that is even the slightest bit mealy. It just makes my skin crawl.

QFT, sister! The number of apples I've passed up for this reason makes me very sad.
posted by grobstein at 1:59 PM on December 6, 2008

Me three. Apples need a crisp mouth-feel.
posted by woodway at 3:08 PM on December 6, 2008

Update: YEEEESSSSSS. Honeycrisp is where it's at. Was amazed to see these babies in a Loblaws the other day and snagged them. (and hey, what with Granny Smith at a whopping $1.79 a pound, not even that big a sacrifice) Nice.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2008

I tried another honeycrisp from the co-op and was not unduly impressed. Maybe they just aren't good here in Washington.
posted by grouse at 10:35 AM on December 19, 2008

I just happened across honeycrisp apples in our local supermarket this week, so I bought a couple to see what all the fuss is about. In the supermarket bin they seemed a little puny in size and the skin is the very littlest bit shriveled. They do have a nice crispness and texture, but I didn't find the one I ate terribly sweet. Since these are most likely out of season, I look forward to trying fresh ones next year. For now my favorites remain Macouns and Jonathans.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:53 PM on December 23, 2008

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