When you head to the grocery store this December, look for a new shiny red apple in the produce department. This fruit is being rolled out with incredible fanfare and some pretty big promises.
According to official marketing materials, the Cosmic Crisp is "the apple of big dreams" and "the apple the world has been waiting for." It promises perfect flavor, crisp texture, a juicy interior, striking color and it should be naturally slow to brown.
School lunchboxes have been looking for you forever, Cosmic Crisp.
The Cosmic Crisp apple is the result of two decades of breeding and research at the Washington State University (WSU) Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. A cross between Enterprise and Honeycrisp apples, Cosmic Crisps taste both sweet and tart, according to the official website. The apples promise to be both good for eating fresh and ideal for cooking and baking.
Because the apples are grown with higher levels of sugar and acidity, they are slow to brown when cut. Cosmic Crisps supposedly will maintain their texture and flavor in storage for more than a year.
A tempting apple
Known as WA 38 while in development, the apple was tested in focus groups where it earned its catchier name.
The apple has particularly visible pores on its dark skin. And these spots reminded someone in a focus group of twinkling stars in the night sky. That observation inspired the apple's trademarked name.
"It's the first apple that's ever been named by consumers," Kathryn Grandy, the marketing director for Proprietary Variety Management, the company overseeing the apple's national launch, told The California Sunday Magazine. The apple even has its own commercials, like the one above.
The apple tested so well with consumers, reports the magazine, that WSU worked with commercial nurseries to produce saplings as quickly as they could. Originally, they planned to begin with 300,000 trees, but demand from growers grew to 4 million. The first trees were made available to eager growers via lottery.
WSU owns the patent, but the breeding program has been financially supported by the apple industry. WA 38 trees will be exclusive to Washington state growers in the U.S. for at least 10 years, with the clock starting in 2017 when the first commercial orchards were planted.
With this impressive interest and an equally notable $10.5 million marketing budget, it's no wonder Cosmic Crisp is turning heads. But will the taste live up to the hype?
Knute Berger got a bite when he was writing about the apple for Crosscut. He describes it convincingly:
"The Cosmic Crisp ticked every box: good looking, with a nice crunch and powerful snap, a beautiful sweet-tart balance, tons of juice trickling down the chin. I wasn't overwhelmed by, say, hints of blueberry or a floral nose — the kinds of complexities wine tasters go on about. But it was one of the best apples I've ever eaten. In fact, my sample was the essence of apple."
Gala and Red Delicious, don't get too comfortable.