The rise and fall of the Red Delicious

The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious


At the supermarket near his home in central Virginia, Tom Burford likes to loiter by the display of Red Delicious. He waits until he spots a store manager. Then he picks up one of the glossy apples and, with a flourish, scrapes his fingernail into the wax: T-O-M. “We can’t sell that now,” the manager protests. To which Burford replies, in his soft Piedmont drawl: “That’s my point.” Burford, who is 79 years old, is disinclined to apple destruction. His ancestors scattered apple seeds in the Blue Ridge foothills as far back as 1713, and he grew up with more than 100 types of trees in his backyard orchard. He is the author of Apples of North America, an encyclopedia of heirloom varieties, and travels the country lecturing on horticulture and nursery design. But his preservationist tendencies stop short of the Red Delicious and what he calls the “ramming down the throats of American consumers this disgusting, red, beautiful fruit.”
Why the Red Delicious No Longer Is  (August 5, 2005)


Consider the fate of America's favorite apple. It emerged from an Iowa orchard in 1880 as a round, blushed yellow fruit of surpassing sweetness. But like a figure in a TV makeover show, it was an apple that its handlers could not leave alone. They altered its shape. They made it firmer and more juicy. They made it so it could be stored in hermetically sealed warehouses for 12 months. Along the way, they changed its color and hence its name -- to Red Delicious. The only problem was the American consumer, whose verdict on the made-over apple has become increasingly clear: Of the two words in the Red Delicious name, one can no longer be believed. "They eventually went too far and ended up with apples the public didn't want to eat," said Lee Calhoun, an apple historian and retired orchardist in Pittsboro, N.C.
'Perfect' Apple Pushed Growers Into Debt (NOV. 4, 2000)


Nearly a half-century ago, the farmers in these dun-colored valleys east of the Cascade Mountains set out to create the perfect apple. It would be lipstick red; broad-shouldered; uniform in size, color and crispness; a health food that would look as dazzling as an ornament on a Christmas tree. In time, they refined the Red Delicious apple into an American icon, fit for a teacher's desk, a child's lunch box, a dieter's dash out the door. The growers produced these apples like widgets coming off a factory line -- far more than they could ever sell. And while many people raved about the apples, other consumers complained that the fruit did not taste like the original Red Delicious. Losses piled up. And now the bill has come due. Last month, Congress approved and President Clinton signed the biggest bailout in the history of the apple industry, after the government reported that apple growers had lost $760 million in the last three years. But while apple farmers blame their woes on a variety of troubles -- unfair competition with foreign growers, oversupply, low prices paid by wholesalers -- many of them now talk openly about their own role in the collapse of one of the last sectors of American agriculture still dominated by family farms.
Comment: We like 'em. The U of Minnesota developed Honey Crisp is better but per the wife $ 4 per pound! Image source. Below looks like a Red Delicious. Source

1 comment:

  1. Lots of apples are better eating than red delicious--and it's worth noting that if you like tart, honeycrisp isn't the best, either. Generations prior to ours remembered that there were eating apples and cooking apples...


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