Some scientists develop water purification systems to help serve parched populations, some scientists work on battling epidemics that cause suffering for millions. But to the relief of bartenders and tipplers everywhere, some scientists work on creating coconut-flavored pineapples.
Australia's Department of Agriculture announced it is in the final stages of developing a new variety of pineapple that conveys the distinct taste of coconut, according to the Daily Mail. The agency has been developing the new breed for the past 10 years at a research station in Queensland.
The new fruit has been bestowed with the marketing-ready, peppy moniker of the “AusFestival.” What the name “AusFestival” has to do with pineapples and coconuts wasn't revealed, but we can assume that “pinenut” wouldn’t work, and “cocoapple” sounds more like a winter dessert than a blast of the tropics. So AusFestival it is.
Although scientists clearly get a bit carried away with the whole “playing God” thing (we’re talking to you, glow-in-the-dark cat inventors), hybrid fruit like the AusFestival has a long legacy, and there’s no actual genetic engineering involved. About 100 years ago, Luther Burbank hybridized plums and apricots to invent the plumcot. At the same time, Walter T. Swingle crossed tangerines and grapefruits to come up with tangelos, one of the first times a new fruit gained commercial acceptance. Grapefruits, peppermint and boysenberries are just a few of the many other hybrid fruits.
Although these days, all too often the best texture and flavor attributes are bred out of produce in favor of traits that create a heartier and more commercially viable product (more durability for shipping, longer shelf life at the market, etc), yet the new coconut-pineapple is said to be quite flavorful.
"Taste tests tell us that AusFestival is a winner — it has this lovely coconut flavor, which you won't find in any other pineapple in Australia,” horticulturalist Garth Senewski told the Australian Broadcast Corporation. Senewski said that the researchers did not initially set out to create a pineapple that tasted like coconut. They were, “looking for a nice flavored pineapple … for a variety that is sweet, low acid and aromatic,” he told the Australian Broadcast Corporation.
Although for now, piña colada aficionados best keep stocked up on Coco Lopez; the new fruit will not be commercially available for another two years. In the meantime, maybe the researchers can figure out how to breed some dark rum into their new concoction.