Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Honeycrisp Apples, A Delicious Case of Mistaken Paternity

It's fall, which means it's apple season, when many, many more varieties of apples show up in the store.  I've come a long way since the days when the only varieties I knew about were Granny Smiths and Red Delicious.  I've tried many other varieties in the past few years.  And my current favorite by far for eating fresh is the Honeycrisps, which are wonderfully sweet and crunchy and tart.  The "crunchy" is the key, because the absolute worst is biting into an apple and getting a big mouthful of mushy.   First released in 1991, Honeycrisps have become increasingly popular. Growers everywhere are planting Honeycrisps to keep up with demand.  It's now the Minnesota state fruit.

Where did the Honeycrisp come from?  They were developed at the University of Minnesota (which has been breeding apples since the 1920s).  Based on their written records from the 1960s, the presumed parents of "Honeycrisp" were "Honeygold" and "Macoun".

But wait! Some noticed that Honeycrisp was dissimilar from its reported parents (Honeycrisp stays firm!  Honeygold and Macoun get soft!).  Suspicious!

So of course a genetic analysis for paternity was done.  OMG!  Neither Honeygold nor Macoun are the parents!  Instead, Keepsake looks like it is one of Honeycrisp's parents.  And the other ... still unknown!  We may never know - that particular apple strain may have been lost or discarded since then. 

I don't know about you, but having its origins shrouded in mystery kind of makes the Honeycrisp apple even more appealing. 


  1. We know that he was adopted, and though he found his natural family, he also "abandoned" his own dnasoa test daughter, Lisa, who was the daughter of his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Chris-Ann Brennan, since high school.