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Does the World Need a Cotton Candy Grape?

Does the World Need a Cotton Candy Grape?

A few decades ago, there was an utter dearth when it came to the variety of fruit made available to American consumers. If you wanted an apple, you pretty much had a choice between Red Delicious and Golden Delicious (neither of which are the most desirable apples). Over the past few years, because of market demand and the maturing of the American palate (as well as some creative marketing) we have anywhere from five to 15 varieties of apples available in any given season (Gala, Fuji, Empire, Honey Crisp, etc.) all of which hold unique characteristics and applications. But to be sure, if you have an apple that is sweeter, either in taste or name, you are bound to sell a lot more to a hungry public.

Beyond apple varieties, we now have a plethora of grape varieties (although not quite as many) and the newest to hit the market with a sweet sensation is the Cotton Candy Grape — not a product of genetic engineering, but the result of some elaborate horticultural work in California. According to a NPR piece, Horticulturalist David Cain wants to bring back the natural flavors of our grapes, which have been stripped away by decades of breeding fruit to withstand shipping and storage — not to please our taste buds. The result is the Cotton Candy grape made by hybridizing two different grape species. So the designer fruit is actually a hybrid — like pluots, peacharines and cherums. The grapes, which sell for about six dollars a pound, are certainly not a bargain variety, but as the name suggests, their taste is significantly sweeter (they have about 12 percent more sugar than regular table grapes) and some say they even taste like cotton candy, although I suspect their suggestive name brings many to this conclusion.

Considering the fact that this new variety is a product of plant breeding and not genetic tinkering, they seem to be a fairly benign sweet treat. However, is bulking up the sweetness (rather than the flavor) really the way to go with our fruit? Is it necessary to compete with the array of processed foods made available? Would you pay six dollars per pound for a significantly sweeter grape?

Related:
Do We Need Bubble-Gum Flavored Apples?

Read more: Appetizers & Snacks, Basics, Blogs, Following Food, Food, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

115 comments

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1:26AM PDT on Oct 20, 2014

Stop mucking with the food.

1:12AM PDT on Oct 20, 2014

Bought these (organic) for the name and because they looked tasty & pretty at the flagship Whole Foods grocery here (aren't we lucky?) & yes, they were more per pound. No, they were not any sweeter than other good organic green or red grapes. No, they did not taste like cotton candy either. Didn't notice any being sold at the other organic markets in town though. Good seedless organic grapes, but not that special. My dog will eat a grape only if I "start" it for him. The original "Peel me a grape." demand.

5:12AM PDT on Jul 25, 2014

Thank you :)

7:22PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Thx

1:08PM PDT on Jul 1, 2014

The world doesn't 'need' one as in it's not a specific requirement to live and I don't really see the point to be honest.

12:51PM PDT on May 14, 2014

Probably not, but researchers tend to respond to what people are requesting and the market responds to what people are buying. Until you're eating exclusively whole organic foods, and actually regain your taste buds, about the only things that do still excite most people's palate are things that are either super sweet or super salty.

8:02PM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

Thank you!

3:58PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

People do have different tastes and I would rather see a new grape then a new candy or soda. They're too pricey for me, though.

10:40AM PST on Jan 30, 2014

I do like cotton candy...

3:16PM PST on Jan 10, 2014

No... but I would pay six dollars for a box of heirloom grapes!

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