What is patent PP7197P? Hint: you eat it.
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I mean, aren’t apples simply beautiful? Gorgeous works of nature’s art, they range from gloriously red to envy-green. My personal favorites are Macoun and Honeycrisp. McIntosh are good if you’re in a slightly tart mood, and Rome and Cortlands head my list for baking. The main event in crisps, cakes, pancakes, cobblers and stove-top compotes, apples are the crowning glory of muffins and cupcakes and cookies. We associate apples with holidays, the Jewish New Year (apples and honey) and Halloween. If you have young teeth, think jelly apple.
The rock star of apples this season, and for some seasons past, is the Honeycrisp. This apple was derived in 1960 at the University of Minnesota’s breeding program. The patent, US PP7197P, was filed in 1988. Recently, the Honeycrisp has dominated the market, peeling away from its competitors. Distinguished by its crisp, juicy texture, mild aroma and cream-colored flesh, the Honeycrisp is supremely delicious, way more enjoyable than Macintosh, Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith or Pink Lady.
People raise holy hell about the exorbitant price of the Honeycrisp. A recent piece in Esquire quoted $4.50 a pound in New York, referring to the fruit as a “designer brand.” David Bedford, the man who created the Honeycrisp years ago, is quoted as saying that the apple’s price is an old-fashioned story of supply and demand. He says its explosive crunchiness creates devotees who are obsessed with the fruit.
Some years ago, a scandal rocked the horticulture world. When the succulent Honeycrisp made its debut, following a romantic propagation at the University of Minnesota, it was said to be a blend of the Macoun and the Honeygold. But someone, who apparently had way too much time on his hands, actually questioned the new apple’s paternity, conducted genetic fingerprinting and declared that the Keepsake, not the Honeygold, was the father. Great embarrassment ensued in the world of apple cross-cultivation. I don’t know if anyone ever conclusively proved who grafted to whom and how.
This fruit has been around. Do we care who its daddy is?