Grapple – Grape-infused Apples

This is the second in an occasional series of reviews of new grocery (and other) products that strike me as interesting or unusual. Also see a previous entry, Tiger Power.

Reminding me of an article from BoingBoing last year (about genetically engineered bananas with othe fruit flavors embedded), Grapples (the a is long, like “grape” – it doesn’t rhyme with Snapple) are Fuji apples that have been dipped in water and Concord grape flavor; no added sugar or calories.

The positioning seems to be that kids are sick of apples and like the taste of grapes better. Personally, I’m kinda weirded by things that look like one thing and taste like something else. Many years ago I was on a backpacking trip through Europe, and got used to having many meals by going into a grocery store and picking up a few things that I would then sit on a bench and eat. In Amsterdam, I picked up some meat, and cheese, and a chocolate milk. It was in the familiar pint carton, with a picture of a brown cow in a field, and some Dutch word like Chokomilkenblurgen or something. After finishing my main course, I opened up the carton, and tilted my head back and to take a big slug of sweet and refreshing chocolate milk.

But it was pudding.

Oh boy. The texture was a big unpleasant surprise. My brain was ready for one thing (based on the cues available) and my senses told me something else.

Grapple is grappling with the same sensory challenge; but I bet their target (young children) aren’t going to care.

The Package
Here’s the package:


The package is minimal, as it should be. The product lives in the produce section and wants to look as much like regular produce as possible. Clear packaging, highlighting the fruit itself. It’s a poly-plastic hinged deal that snaps closed, with four compartments for the apples. The uniformity of apple size required to fit into a plastic molded container is a bit startling, obviously there are sorting processes in place to get produce distributors the size of fruit/veg they want, but we still think of these as natural products with lots of natural variation – the idea that they could be uniform enough to stack in a plastic container seems slightly odd. It does, however, suit the sci-fi notion of Apples That Taste Like Grapes, so there ya go.

The package opens us like so:


As with any fruit, wash before eating. Okay, wash, and…umm, this is an apple? Yeah, the expected flavor explosion, the grapeness di tutti grapey did not materialize. It tasted like an apple. A Fuji apple. A little tasteless in spots, in fact. If you were aware of the grape factor and gave it whiff, you might believe there was grapeliness imbued therein, but if you picked it up and chomped on it thinking it was an apple, you would finish not realizing you had done anything different. A $1/unit, that seems a bit silly.

I guess we could have done the blind study and asked people how they liked them apples, but really, trust me, I couldn’t taste anything.

Caveat considor: if their demographic is little kids, we know they have amazingly sensitive taste buds. Back in my grade 8 days, I did a Science Fair experiment where we gave people Smarties (for Americans, this is a candy that resembles M&Ms) blindfolded and asked them to identify the color. It was a surprising experiment to many because they didn’t even think there was a difference to be noted. But very young kids could identify the color of the Smartie by taste within a second.

For an adult, this is an expensive and fruitless offering. But has anyone given one of these apples to a little kid? Did they notice a difference? I’d be curious to hear if there’s any there, there.

Read more about Grapple here.


About Steve