It’s rare that a piece of fruit inspires release buzz worthy of a Marvel movie. But the Cosmic Crisp — a new type of apple developed from 20 years of research at Washington State University — arrived this week at local supermarkets and retailers across the US, backed by a $10.5 million marketing budget, including a dramatic commercial that said “This is the apple the world has been waiting for … IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES.”
The fruit, also known as WA 38, is a cross between an Enterprise and a Honeycrisp, combining durability with sweetness. Also, in a state renowned for its apple industry (Washington produces almost 60 percent of the apples grown in the US), this is reportedly the first apple bred exclusively in the region, since most other varieties were developed elsewhere and grown here. Thus, there’s plenty riding locally on its success or failure.
Already, it seems that the Cosmic Crisp is in high demand, at least in this area. The U Village QFC sold out of its supply on the first day it had them, and had another 80 cases delivered on Tuesday (which one worker in the produce department said would last until around mid-afternoon). More QFCs will start selling them around the city, from Capitol Hill to West Seattle, by Wednesday. Display cases at many of these locations have already been set up at the very front of the store.
Eater visited a local Safeway on Rainier Ave S, near Mount Baker, on Tuesday morning and found the Cosmic Crisp stock already running low by 8:30 a.m. The price was $3.49 per pound, 50 cents higher than the Honeycrisps, and a full $1.50 more than many other apple varieties.
Worth the extra cost? Well, that’s always debatable. It’s ... an apple. The skin has a nice texture and there’s plenty of sugar with each bite, even if it was hard to distinguish between the regular Honeycrisp. It’s also supposed to be slow to brown, and after over an hour leaving a half-eaten one on the table, there didn’t seem to be significant difference in color. Eater has yet to put it through the rigors of baking, which was another selling point.
Whether it’s a game-changer or not remains to be seen.