I am sick of Red Delicious apples. Specifically, I am sick of Red Delicious apples being passed off as actual apples when really, they’re just very attractive props.
Red Delicious apples, with their chewy skin and mealy flesh, are the most common apple in America, grown and sold more than any other variety. Thanks to years of breeding, the skin is redder and thicker than ever. They’re able to be picked before they’re ripe and resist bruising while they travel across the country…to people who don’t want to eat them.
In a new piece in the Atlantic, “The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious“, Sarah Yager describes the “paradox of the Red Delicious” as this:
“Alluring yet undesirable, the most produced and arguably the least popular apple in the United States. It lurks in desolation. Bumped around the bottom of lunch bags as schoolchildren rummage for chips or shrink-wrapped Rice Krispies treats. Waiting by the last bruised banana in a roadside gas station, the only produce for miles. Left untouched on hospital trays, forlorn in the fruit bowl at hotel breakfast buffets, bereft in nests of gift-basket raffia.”
Don’t get me wrong: Red Delicious apples look terrific in a bowl at a health fair. They’re the perfect vehicle for evil queens to poison unsuspecting storybook characters. But there is nothing “delicious” about them.
Yet those beautiful, bland things are served almost every day at my children’s school, where many of them get tossed in the garbage by the kids. Even when we cut them into easy-to-eat slices as part of the Fruit Ninjas program, most students take a few nibbles and push them aside. Who could blame them? “They’re green inside,” my six year old told me one day with horror. He’d never met a piece of fruit he didn’t like until he tried a Red Delicious at school.
I’m sure Red Delicious are the most economical choice for our school district to buy. I get it. But what a shame that there are apple orchards mere miles away where varieties like Melrose, Gala, and Honeycrisp are grown to perfection. Apples that would make kids swoon! And to think that some children may only know “apples” as “those tasteless round things I get in the cafeteria”.
Thankfully, there are signs that the vile Red Delicious may be on its way out. Production has dropped 40 percent, as more consumers demand Galas, Granny Smiths, and Fujis. I can only hope that trickles down to the lunch tray. Because how can we expect children to develop a taste for healthy foods if we don’t give them healthy food that actually tastes good?