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This ad isn't what you think.
It's not promoting a sports team or a grill company.
It's for an apple.
And unlike those that have dominated the produce section when you were a kid, new breeds like this one have catchy names, logos, and slogans.
And are trying to generate buzz before you can buy them.
Historically, our produce has gone unbranded.
So how did we end up with all these apples?
For most of the past century, America's iconic apple was that of Snow White.
Lipstick red, with shiny skin and a crisp white interior, a.k.a. "the Red Delicious."
First grown on an orchard in Iowa and originally named after its founder, when it came out in the late 1800s, it was dubbed "the best apple of any time."
Growers and retail stores loved the Red delicious because it looked good.
It was uniform in size and color, turned red before it was ripe, and wouldn't bruise easily.
And Americans loved the taste.
By the 1980s, close to half of all apples grown in the US were Red Delicious.
The trouble is, when you bite into one now, it often doesn't taste great.
People complain of mushy flesh and tough skin. Its defining characteristic can sometimes be that it has no flavor at all.
It takes years and a lot of money to develop a good tasting apple, but growers were incentivized to cut costs at the expense of taste.
That is, until one apple proved them all wrong.
The Honeycrisp.
The honeycrisp is everything that the Red Delicious was not.
When it came out in 1991, after 30 years of development, it had a refreshing taste, a delicate skin, and a soft, juicy crunch.
And even though it can cost more than two times the average price of apples, consumers then and now are willing to pay a premium price, so much so that it's now the fifth most produced apple in the US.
So the honeycrisp started a sort of revolution in the apple industry: Now that people knew expensive, flavor-focused apples would sell, breeders experimented to create tastier, more inventive varieties.
And they sought to protect their apples' good names, by patenting their trees and trademarking their brand names.
This process picked up speed after a 1980 federal law allowed universities to own and patent their inventions, including apple trees.
And research programs for apple breeding took advantage of the new rules.
In order to plant these new patented varieties, growers had to pay up: usually about $1 per patented tree and a portion of sales for use of a trademarked name.
Plus, each trademarked apple had to pass muster on firmness, sugar content, blemishes and color.
These quality checks mean that even though the trademarked Pink Lady and the generic Cripps Pink originate from the same type of tree, they look and taste different.
The Pink Lady is held to rigorous trademark standards and that is what, the company says, justifies their higher price.
Now, not all new apples get trademarked.
It is only those that experts believe can garner a premium price.
And it can take up to 10 years after securing a patent and trademark to grow enough trees for commercial production.
So while they were waiting on the fruits of their labor, growers worked on marketing their apple in the hopes finding loyal consumers in a competitive market.
And they're not alone.
Visit your grocery store and you will see a lot more name brands in the produce section.
Branded fruits and vegetables are a growing trend.
While not all branded apples will see success on par with the honeycrisp, there is one that has high hopes.
Washington State growers are ramping up production of their Cosmic Crisp, an apple that's both sweet and tart, firm and crisp, and much easier to grow than the honeycrisp.
They're trying to get people excited about tasting something new and that's not a bad thing.
While we could see higher prices in the future, the fruits and veggies themselves will be objectively better.
And consumers will have more options, just like we do with our phones, or our computers, or our cereal.
And now, our apples.
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愛吃蘋果嗎?一天一蘋果,完美蘋果的追尋 (The quest for the perfect apple)

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Julia Kuo 發佈於 2019 年 4 月 11 日    Julia Kuo 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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