Get Ready for the Cosmic Crisp

The Launch is an absolutely captivating article by Brooke Jarvis about the Cosmic Crisp – an apple you haven’t heard of. Yet. But will likely hear about in the fall.

I am mostly familiar with the more generic varieties: Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious. I don’t think I know them well enough to really distinguish or describe their differences… but the article was a whole new world.

The Cosmic Crisp is debuting on grocery stores after this fall’s harvest, and in the nervous lead-up to the launch, everyone from nursery operators to marketers wanted me to understand the crazy scope of the thing: the scale of the plantings, the speed with which mountains of commercially untested fruit would be arriving on the market, the size of the capital risk. People kept saying things like “unprecedented,” “on steroids,” “off the friggin’ charts,” and “the largest launch of a single produce item in American history.”

From the change in how apples are grown (some growers are favoring the trellised approach), to the role that marketing and focus groups are having… all the way to naming rights (is it Cosmic Crisp or WA 38): this article covers it all.

Like Jazz, the latest apples have names that tend to sound less like the farmer down the street: Rave and SnapDragon, Ludacrisp and Frostbite, KIKU and Pazazz, Juici and Envy. They occupy a world of trademarks and proprietary varieties, heavily branded products whose market scarcity and intellectual property are carefully controlled by management companies and growers clubs and international consortiums, and which often have to be licensed at significant costs.

Jarvis does a great job sifting through all the information and details, providing what feels like a guided tour. I’m very curious now for the fall to come, and to see just what all the fuss is about.

Or, better put: I’m curious to see what all the anticipation is about, and to see whether there actually is a fuss.

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