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.

The real apple. All others are impostors. Pic: Jeff Darmanin

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.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

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    • Al says:

      02:01pm | 05/10/12

      Red Delicious, never realy been a fan of them. There are so many different varietys out there (many that also have red skin) that appeal to my taste, and that isn’t the sweet ones.
      Try the Huon Apple varieties. You won’t find them at your supermarket though, they don’t keep as long or travel well so there is limited sales areas around where they are grown (Not just in Tasmania Houn region, there is one near Canberra that grows them as well).

    • Stephen says:

      04:13pm | 05/10/12

      Red Delicoious?  You Aussies haven’t tasted Red Delicious.  You’ve only tasted some badly grown tasteless red apple Australia calls Red Delicoious.  If you ever let in NZ Apples you will maybe finally get to taste what a red apple tastes like.  Australia has many types of fruits that are just so pathetic they are not worht touching. Peaches, Red apples, Neckerines, etc etc.  So many lovely fruits in other countries, here they just taste like tasteless/hard pathetic fruit to be avoided.  Only when you travel you realize how bad our food really is. :(

    • Karl says:

      06:36pm | 05/10/12

      there’s a good reason we don’t let NZ apples in, it’s called stringent quarantine

    • paul says:

      02:06pm | 05/10/12

      Please everyone do you’r research and buy Organic. Apples have been sprayed with more poisons then any other fruit. Just research it.
      The chemicals cause cancer, and a wealth of problems.

    • NigelC says:

      02:53pm | 05/10/12

      Is Organic a brand name? Can’t think of any other reason to use a capital letter on the word.  Anyway I think if you put an ‘i’ in front of the fruit it won’t make it any nicer tasting but it will mean lots of apple fanbois will buy them ... iRed just like a red delicious but at twice the price ....

    • Dan says:

      03:48pm | 05/10/12

      Natural does not equal good. Cancer is natural, AIDS is natural, flesh eating bacteria are natural, the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs was natural.

      Man-made does not mean its unnatural because we are natural. We’re animals, just like (almost) every other living thing that is not a plant. Is a bird’s nest unnatural? Is a beehive unnatural? Is a coral reef unnatural?

      Finally, man-made does not mean bad. The cure for polio was man-made, the disease was natural. Society and social welfare were man-made, starvation and violent conflicts for resources was natural.

    • paul says:

      04:49pm | 05/10/12

      Sorry for using a capital Nigel, but of what use is your post?
      @Dan, what crap are you spewing? It is not natural for humans to ingest poisons and chemicals designed to make fruit grow faster and be shinier . Have you ever wondered by cancer rates have gone up 50%. 100 years ago they ate apples straight from the tree.
      What are you going on about man made for? I never stated apples were Man made (obviously) but thats chemicals and poisons are sprayed on it. Go ahead and much up all those poisons and give it to your kids. Just remember to apologise when your wife and kids are in the cancer ward.

    • bec says:

      02:07pm | 05/10/12

      Sparkling clean lies. Red delicious are too bitter and lack the sour tang I like to get when I bite into an apple.

    • HC says:

      02:59pm | 05/10/12

      Agreed, the only good apple in my opinion is a one where when you bite into it you get a mouthful of crisp clean flesh and sour but sweet apple juice.  All the red apples (apart from the Pink Lady which is ok but not great) have seemed bitter with a loose texture that dries up the inside of the mouth.

      Granny Smiths are the closest I can buy in a supermarket to the apples that I grew up with (picked from our very own tree).  They were also green skinned but about 4 times the size of the average apple and a lot more sour.  Those apples were supposed to be only good for cooking with but on a warm autumns afternoon the juice inside these monster apples was still cool and just a little sweet from the sun.

      Ah good times…

    • Simon Sharwood says:

      02:19pm | 05/10/12

      Golden delicious FTW. That’s the ultimate apple, made sweeter by the fact it’s only around for a few weeks each year.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      02:22pm | 05/10/12

      Ant….....How can you make a red delicious apple sexy???? You cant,now a banana you might have a chance with…......... smile Another article maybe….

    • Samantha says:

      02:25pm | 05/10/12

      This makes me really sad, cause I only eat Red Delicious apples.
      What is wrong witha classic, why do we always have to have something newer and trendier

    • Inky says:

      02:35pm | 05/10/12

      It’s not our fault, they keep coming out with a new Aplle every year, which is really more or less the same as the old Apple with some minor upgrades, but they tell us we *need* the new Apple…

    • Jason Todd says:

      03:08pm | 05/10/12

      Samantha, I agree. Why should we improve at all?
      I for one will never trust the horseless carriage. My buggy and horse, Thunderbolt, get me from A to B just as easily!

    • Inky says:

      02:26pm | 05/10/12

      I’m not much of an apple person, I much prefer oranges, they’re clearly the superior fruit.

      See what I did there?

    • dancan says:

      02:27pm | 05/10/12

      I like granny smiths.  The sharp chrisp taste is refreshing.  A granny smith and coffee is a great way to start the day

    • Comrade Beckles says:

      03:04pm | 05/10/12

      Pass on the coffee but otherwise totally agree: Granny Smiths are fab, especially straight from the fridge, all cold and crispy and sour. Yummo!

    • scott says:

      02:29pm | 05/10/12

      I only buy Fuji’s.  So crunchy, so sweet, so delicious.

    • Mary says:

      03:06pm | 05/10/12

      I only like Fuji apples, the others go all powdery, especially the red apples.

    • marley says:

      02:38pm | 05/10/12

      You’re all wrong. McIntosh all the way.  Only problem is, they don’t grow well here.  So I guess I’ll have to book myself a flight back to Canada for a “fix.”

    • Al says:

      03:14pm | 05/10/12

      Marley - I’ve been trying to resist this but I just can’t help it:
      Didn’t McIntosh get taken over by Apple during the 80’s or 90’s?.........

    • marley says:

      03:19pm | 05/10/12

      @Al - yah shoulda resisted!  Nah, Apple didn’t take a bite out of McIntosh - they couldn’t even spell it.

    • John says:

      02:45pm | 05/10/12

      An apple a day keeps Tony Abbott and his best friend Alan Jones away.

    • Anubis says:

      03:02pm | 05/10/12

      @ John - Troll FAIL

    • Inky says:

      03:04pm | 05/10/12

      I dunno, I tried eating apples once, but I kept seeing stories about them.

    • Chocopie says:

      02:48pm | 05/10/12

      My favourite is royal gala. Juicy, crunchy, delicious. The best of best!

    • Stevie says:

      06:40pm | 05/10/12

      I agree - Royal Gala all the way, Red Delicious a close second, but it depends how they look on the shelves. You can usually tell a flowery one….. and what’s the go with the brown flesh at the core. More often than not sadly.

    • keith says:

      02:48pm | 05/10/12

      I worked at the Lenswood Cold Store Co-op in 1959/60 wrapping export apples (at lightning speed, along with my mates Noel, Brockie, Lennie, Larry, and others I forget,  at 11 pence per case. Every red was ‘delicious’, and we stacked them in the huge cold room back then for export mainly to the UK. Marked or not every Delicious was so sweet, as were the Jonathon and Golden Delicious. These days, it’s hard to tell one from the other, to me they mostly have a bland taste, with hard flesh. It’s possibly because of long periods in cold room storage, where refrigerant gases can infiltrate the apple through through the skin, or maybe it’s genetic manipulation; anyhow as Anthony says, they’re not sweet, as an apple should be. Maybe the Caldicott boys, well, men, they’re now probably in their 80’s, could give him some insight.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      03:11pm | 05/10/12

      @Keith, I agree, today’s red delicious apples are dry and powdery. That’s why rather than buying from the supermarket I get them from family who grow them or buy direct.

    • Gordon says:

      02:50pm | 05/10/12

      “It is a good apple to grow, a high yielding apple, and it packs well.”

      There you go: an apple for grower, shipper & vendor convenience. It has always had a faintly acrid aftertaste to me: not horrible, but not as nice as you gala or your fuji. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

      You could rename it Adam’s Tempation or Eve’s Promise, but the wolloongabba wonder would be closer to the truth.

    • M&M's says:

      02:57pm | 05/10/12

      What about the Jonathon apples, they were small and sweet and always juicy.

    • alex says:

      03:53pm | 05/10/12

      YES YES YES.  I luuuuuurve a good Jonathon

    • Rachelle says:

      06:22pm | 05/10/12

      Absolutely! Jonathon apples were the ones we grew up on and I have been unable to buy them in the shops for years.  If I ever do see them at a market or somewhere I buy up big because I know it may be the last time. :(

    • Gordon says:

      03:01pm | 05/10/12

      And Anthony, thank you from the bottom of my heart for an article on the Punch that isn’t about you-know-who, the other you-know-who, the third you-know-who, or his wife. We need an OUTRAGE free weekend and this is a good start.

    • sunny says:

      03:07pm | 05/10/12

      “Red Delishy Zapples. They’re Red and Delishy!”

      Where do I send the invoice?

    • pa_kelvin says:

      03:18pm | 05/10/12


      “Red Delishy Zapples. They’re Red and Delishy!“TM….....See the TM now I own the rights….Forward the cheque to me…... smile

    • sunny says:

      03:59pm | 05/10/12

      Aw shucks (and other things).

      Well seeing I’ve just made you rich can you lend me a tenner I’m skint.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      04:42pm | 05/10/12

      Nah…....50/50 split….....You were clever enough to come up with it ,and I was smart enough to TM it….........Any apple growers out there??? smile

    • che says:

      03:07pm | 05/10/12

      I like the crispy sweet and juicy Sundowners, they are clearly the best.

    • Destry says:

      03:09pm | 05/10/12

      I bought a dozen bagged from Coles this week. They are midgets, the size of plums. That’s my last foray into Delicious.

    • Greg says:

      03:11pm | 05/10/12

      GOOD Red Delicious apples are great.. the problem is that the apple industry has ruined the fruit with long term cold storage, mixing old storage fruit with fresh, and stopping sellers from stating when fruit is “new season”.
      These days I rarely take a chance on apples, as too often they’re poor quality and brown inside.

    • Tatty_Anne says:

      03:58pm | 05/10/12

      Have to agree.

      The only good apples these days are in cider.

    • deJen says:

      03:15pm | 05/10/12

      Red Delish are the best! Perfect blend of crispness and juicyness. When you get them in season. When you get them after 8 months in a cool store, you might as well be eating plain flour…..

    • St. Michael says:

      03:17pm | 05/10/12

      “To name just a few, there are ...Granny Smith,.  Pffft. None of them are fit to serve to swine. It’s the white creamy flesh of red delicious all the way for me.”

      Ant, you’re just not man enough to embrace the true bitterness of a proper green apple.  They were even created here as a species, so they’re more Australian than bloody Fuji applies.

    • Helen says:

      03:20pm | 05/10/12

      The red apples sell before the green ones in the school canteen I run.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      04:45pm | 05/10/12

      Fruit?? School canteen?? Surely you jest Helen….. smile

    • Stefano says:

      03:25pm | 05/10/12

      “As mentioned, there were two types of apple and two only when I was a kid. Red apples and green apples”

      That’s not true.  I am the son of a fruiter (that’s suburb speak for ‘my dad ran the local fruitshop’).  Up until the lat 1980’s (when we sold the shop) common varieties were, red dels, granny smiths (green), Bonzas, Jonathons and Golden Delicious.  The latter two ate beatufully when in season and had remarkable shelf life, especially golds, which would last abt 8 weeks on the kitchen bench without rotting.

      Then apples such as “winter coles” came in. They were a little tart but nice and crisp.  I think they must have morphed into pink ladies

      Red Dels, however, could be kept in cold storage for up to 12 months.  We once “lost” a case in our coolroom (It was BIG).  I remember we found it a by accident (ok we tought it was an empty box sitting under some cabbages) - one year later.  They tasted like they were just picked.  Beau-di-ful grin

    • Apple pie rules says:

      03:32pm | 05/10/12

      Hybrid apples are the work of the devil. You should keep with the originals, Cox, Bramley, Red Delicious, Cameo & McIntosh. 

      In extreme circumstances you could eat one descended from French crabapples, discovered by chance by “Granny” Anne Smith of Ryde.

      Too bad raw apples make me ill.

    • james says:

      03:34pm | 05/10/12

      I spent a season in Batlow picking apples and by far the Red Dels were the best to pick. They grow way more abundantly than other varieties and they are just about impossible to bruise. All the pickers would look forward to days on the Red Dels as we would make about one third more money. That said, they taste like a dog’s arse, especially compared to your fujis and pink ladies.

    • Cat says:

      03:34pm | 05/10/12

      Jonathon apples are almost impossible to get now - Pink Lady, Sundowner and Royal Gala are not too bad. Fuji apples are like sweet water with no other flavour. Granny Smith is still the best around for a baked apple!
      But…I miss some of the endless variety I found when I was a student in the UK…sigh. Perhaps our climate is just too warm for the best in apples?

    • Grandma says:

      03:37pm | 05/10/12

      I’ve never liked Red Delicious, even as a kid. I much preferred Jonathans, even though they had a short season. I love Winesaqp apples, but I’ve only found them in Queensland at Farmers’ markets. Does anyone else remember the very early gravenstein, they were delicious

    • Tanya says:

      03:51pm | 05/10/12

      Red Delicious are bland, chalky and too often, soft. Kudos to the agricultural geniuses who’ve created Pink Lady’s, that have everything - sweetness, tang, juice, crispiness and available in a range of sizes. I just planted my first tree. I can’t wait till it pays off.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      04:50pm | 05/10/12

      Unless things have changed Tanya, I think you need 2 trees for cross polination to get fruit…...I could be wrong , but it’s worth checking…

    • Farmer Jane says:

      04:09pm | 05/10/12

      I always chuckle at hippies telling everyone to eat “organic” you know there is about 250 times more homones in cabbage that in a piece of “hormone added” steak. Also, Soybeans are one of the most genetically modified foods on the planet. Stick that in your Chai Soy Latte hippie!!!

    • Justme says:

      04:11pm | 05/10/12

      Pink ladies, or golden delicious for me if you are just eating them by themselves. But the overall winners is a thinly sliced granny smith with a crumbly, bitey cheddar. Red dels are powdery, nasty things.

    • Katie says:

      04:14pm | 05/10/12

      Red delicious? More like Red and powdery. They aren’t crisp, their texture is - as previously stated - powdery and unappealing, and they’re just blah.

      Jazz apples are the way to go, if you’re after a reddish apple. Otherwise, I much prefer the green varieties. Tart, tangy and amazing to cook with.

      I won’t cry if the red delicious vanish : D

    • don't like them apples says:

      04:15pm | 05/10/12

      I either buy from growers markets, corner shops who locally source the produce or grow it myself.
      I always used to buy from supermarkets but got tired of of tasteless, overpriced produce that is picked green and might look flawless but tastes like crap.
      Don’t even get me started on supermarket tomatoes and strawberries - absolutely revolting!!

    • Bear says:

      04:20pm | 05/10/12

      You can make lots of things out of apples. Apple cider, apple schnapps, apple vodka. “what about apple sauce?” I suppose you could grind some pills into it.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      04:38pm | 05/10/12

      Only on the Punch could we have nearly 50 comments arguing about the relative merits of apple varieties. If the internet is viewed as some sort of new dimension of human consciousness, then I don’t like what I see. Sometimes I shed a tear for the simple (but angst-filled) early nineties, pre internet, when I was in my twenties. An apple was merely a piece of fruit.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      04:55pm | 05/10/12

      That’s the spirit Scotchy….....I say more stories on biscuits… smile

    • Nom! says:

      05:10pm | 05/10/12

      I’m a little disappointed. Sure I’ve had a rare bad red delicious apple but I found it was just old. Fresh red delicious are amazing and the only ones I will eat! The let down comes from suppliers who stock old inedible crap .... Don’t hate the red delicious for dodgy stores!

    • stoney says:

      05:22pm | 05/10/12

      I love the red delicious, we especially await the hi-early.  One suggestion i would like to make is that several years ago i saw a bloke sneeze four times over the apples at a supermarket, i was gonna tell him off, but i saw that he was disabled and with his mother, she nodded when i didn;t get stuck into him, I would like to see apples is bags!! And supermarkets to ensure they are FRESH, woolies and coles are selling onions that have shoots growing off them   YUK. btw, the best reddies i bought was from a road side dealer in vic, they were not huge and they were in a bag.

    • Sharni says:

      05:24pm | 05/10/12

      PINK LADY all the way! I love how crispy, tangy and slightly sour they are. Gone are the days that Australians just settled for bland food without diversity. Now we have variety and flavour!

    • ianc says:

      06:59pm | 05/10/12

      Yep the Ladies are my favourite but i miss the Jonathans.

    • Renae says:

      05:56pm | 05/10/12

      Fresh red delicious are amazing, but so rare to find.  I also loved Jonathan appease and Granny Smiths eaten with salt.  I grew up in North Queensland and we used to eat lemons and Granny Smiths smothered in salt for afternoon tea after school.  And now I’m hungry.

    • Fresh is Best says:

      06:51pm | 05/10/12

      In our town (Albany, WA) a wonderful majority revert back to our award winning farmers market (best in Australia I boast) to taste beautifully grown fresh food as it used to taste.
      Boycott the chain supermarkets and they will soon revert back to Apples and fresh eats that ACTUALLY taste!
      Its the price we’ve paid for demanding convenience over good old fashioned home grown food.

    • Linda says:

      07:35pm | 05/10/12

      Red delicious used to be my favourite fruit but over the years the flavour changed as they have cross pollinated them to improve the fruit so they say. Since I found the taste of them differed over the years I no longer bother with them & only buy the gala variety when in season. I also will not buy apples out of season since they store them & the flavour changes due to storing them for so long.


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