Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grocer X: Apple anarchy

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 7:28 AM

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Red Delicious apples have been taking some heat lately.

“Alluring yet undesirable,” The Atlantic says of the american favorite, “the most produced and arguably the least popular apple in the United States. It lurks in desolation.” And The Washington Post’s “Why the red delicious no longer is” might as well be an obituary — as noted in the article by apple historian Lee Calhoun.

Now, I’m not about to bring up a defense for the Red Delicious — I can’t stand it — but I will point out that the majority of the apples you can name off the top of your head should be considered in the same boat.

Granny Smith: Forever jaded by the “sour green apple” flavor stereotype. If I had a watermelon-flavored Jolly Rancher for every green apple I pitched growing up, I’d certainly be sporting a bigger waistline. As far as I’m concerned, the only way to make a Granny Smiths palatable is to take it out of its apple-form, say in pie or covered in caramel. Let's be honest — there are only a few ways to eat a Granny Smith.

Gala: They’re not as bad as a Granny Smith or Red Delicious, but I’m sure you’ve had sweeter. This raises the question: What are you doing here, Gala? If I’m not using you baking, and I can find a sweeter apple for eating, who are you to add to my shopping bill? Galas used to be a top seller in my stores — nicely sized, familiar and versatile — and I’m sure they still do OK, but their reign will be short-lived with the growing popularity and availability of more tantalizing apples like the Honeycrisp.

Fuji: Expensive. Though they can be grown stateside, the Fuji bears an “exotic” name and it seems like that’s what we’re paying for when they’re not on sale. I’ve had some bad experiences, and eaten Fuji apples from the U.S., New Zealand, Chile — actually, possibly from everywhere they’re grown except for Fujisaki, Japan. And if you’re another Red Delicious hater, you might like to know that the Fuji is a hybrid with Red Delicious DNA.

Golden Delicious: Don’t get me started on this waste of orchard space. I’m not a baker, or one who uses Goldens for anything else, but I still don’t see why anyone ever began buying these things in the first place. They’re milly, the skin feels weird, and you can’t even pick one up without bruising it, let alone get it home in an edible state.

Specialty apples”: Let me preface this one by saying that specialty apples are the way to go if your store carries a good stock. Outside of the staples, most stores carry at least a handful of seasonal apples during the fall and winter, and you're bound to find one that suits your fancy. The main issue you’ll run into with these is quality; that’s where the store’s stock comes in. All too often you’ll find these with wrinkled skin and hallow weight, due to a prolonged stint on the display. On top of all that, we’re going to charge you an arm and a leg for any specialty apple. And no, they’re never on sale.

Maybe there are no winners in the apple game anymore.

The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter (@_CraigLemley) or send questions/comments to

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