A sad, seedy tale of the demise of the red apple
In a week where the core national issues have had a decidedly seedy tone, let’s usher in the weekend by talking about something sweet. Apples.
Apples are a much under-rated fruit. But one type of apple is in real trouble. It’s the humble red delicious, which used to be known quite simply as “red apples” when I was a kid.
Growers like Iola Robson, who has been in the apple game for 43 years in Batlow, NSW, says her farm used to be about 80 per cent red delicious, 20 per cent other varieties. That ratio is now completely reversed. Another grower we spoke to said red delicious apples could soon be phased out entirely! How do you like them apples?
James Walters, general manager of South Australia’s Lenswood apple co-op, says red delicious apples could vanish entirely from the apple landscape.
“Red delicious is a great apple. It is a good apple to grow, a high yielding apple, and it packs well. But I reckon the day is closer than you think when growers no longer produce them.”
Red delicious apples “eat well”, which is farmer speak for products which are good to eat.
Alas, not enough people see it that way. That much was abundantly clear in Woolworths at Town Hall Station Sydney yesterday, when “red dels” were half the price of every other apple variety in the store, despite being just as crispy.
The trend towards apples, as with so many other modern foods, is towards the sweet. Red delicious apples suffer on this scale, with some people finding them a little bland. As one particularly sour-spirited website writes of their taste…
“Unfortunately the visual appeal is not matched by the flavour… Red Delicious can be quite a refreshing apple to eat, but its chief characteristic is that it has almost no flavour at all.”
That’s just insulting. As mentioned, there were two types of apple and two only when I was a kid. Red apples and green apples. Red apples meant red delicious and no one ever said they weren’t sweet enough back then.
“It all changed in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s with Fujis, which originated in Japan but were grown here,” James Walters explains. “That sort of changed the apple world a little. People were doubling their money on Fujis, so everyone followed suit. Then came all the other varieties.”
Today, there is a dazzling array of apple brands in supermarkets and fruit shops. To name just a few, there are Royal gala, Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jazz and Sundowner.
Pffft. None of them are fit to serve to swine. It’s the white creamy flesh of red delicious all the way for me.
By the way, the last three apples on the list above should all have the letters (TM) afterwards in small print. That’s because they’re the result of cross breeding and someone owns the trademark. More trademarked brands are coming, says James Walters, including apples with the highly suggestive names “Envy” and “Smitten”.
Seems we’ve gone full circle with the whole apple/sex/garden of Eden Thing.
Mind you, perhaps there’s a clue here for the key to survival of the humble red delicious. If it’s not too late, and assuming anyone cares, perhaps we might save it with a sexy new name.
This is where you guys come in. How would you rebrand the red delicious to make it enticing once again?
Do you even think it’s worth the effort? Or do you reckon the red delicious apple is all stalk, no action, and not worth the fuss.
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