Galas Have Finally Edged Out the Red Delicious in America's Apple Wars
A good way to create dissent and friction among your social group is to bring up politics. The next best way: Debate the merits of apple varieties. For years, the Red Delicious—firm, crunchy, with a tough skin resistant to bruising—has been the most popular choice among consumers. According to Slate, however, real apple aficionados consider it the most generic choice, arguing that it lacks the flavor of a Gala or Honeycrisp.
Apple snobs now have statistics on their side. According to the U.S. Apple Association, the Red Delicious has been knocked off its perch as the top apple for the first time in five decades. Its successor, the Gala, is now the top crop.
That declaration comes as growers are prepared to ship 52.4 million boxes of Galas this year, a 5.8 percent increase over 2017. Red Delicious, meanwhile, has seen its popularity decline by 11 percent, with 51.7 million boxes going out in 2018. While Granny Smith and Fuji apples are in third and fourth place, respectively, they each only ship about half the quantity of the top two. The popular-but-expensive Honeycrisp will likely crack the top five for the first time this year and could rise to third place by 2020.
Food and agriculture experts have pointed to an increased variety of tasty fruits as the major reason Red Delicious consumption has declined. Apples like the Gala and Honeycrisp tend to be sweeter, crisper, and less of a chore to consume than the Red, which has long been identified as a perfunctory fresh food—the kind stuffed without thought into lunch bags, doled out in cafeterias, or handed out by joyless people on Halloween.
Most contemporary apples were originally imported from Europe. (The Honeycrisp is more of an experiment, created by a University of Minnesota researcher in 1991 after he cross-pollinated apple seeds.) The maligned Red Delicious was first discovered in the late 1800s by an Iowa farmer who foreshadowed the animosity some would have toward the fruit. After discovering the tree on his property, he kept trying to kill it.