Red Delicious Apples Have Been Dethroned and We’re Wondering What Took So Long

published Aug 29, 2018
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(Image credit: Budimir Jevtic)

The 50-year reign of Red Delicious as the most dominant apple variety in American orchards is OVER AT LONG LAST. According to the U.S. Apple Association, the new ruler over the apple domain is the far superior Gala apple.

This year, U.S. grocers will produce 52.4 million boxes of Gala apples compared to 51.7 million Red Delicious, proving one thing: The American people have spoken and they demand tastier apples.

It’s a good thing Red Delicious apples have extremely thick skin because what I’m going to say about them is a tad harsh: Red Delicious apples are waxy, tough, sometimes mealy, flavorless, and, worst of all, probably the type of apple that sent Snow White into a coma. So why have these shiny-on-the-outside, tasteless-on-the-inside apples been the default fruit-of-choice for lunch boxes, dining halls, and hotel buffets for DECADES?

It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts, Red Delicious

The long-held commercial success of Red Delicious can be attributed to a few things: They’re cosmetically pretty to look at and are extremely hardy, guaranteed to withstand shipments from coast to coast. The deep color and thickness of their skin hides blemishes and extends shelf life, making them ideal for grocery and other food-service displays. Simply put, the dominance of Red Delicious apples is an example of what happens when we prioritize appearance over taste.

Negative popular opinion against Red Delicious apples is nothing new, both among consumers and growers. For example, a decade ago our Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, noticed this message on a display of Red Delicious at her local apple orchard: “We grow this variety because the grocery stores demand it, but we don’t recommend it to our pick-your-own customers. While it is a good eating apple, almost all varieties surpass it. For all other purposes it is rated fair or poor.”

Thankfully demand is shifting and so is the supply. Bring on the Gala apples. And Granny Smith, and Fuji, and Honeycrisp — literally any other type of apple, please.