The Red Delicious Apple has been a staple in brown lunch bags across the United States for generations. The fruit has been prized for it’s ability to stay fresh for long periods of time, as well as it’s deep red color. However, it’s tart taste has led to a decline in popularity over the last decade. As American consumers explore other varieties of apples the Delicious Red has found a new home in an unlikely place, and taste has nothing to do with it’s increasing popularity here.
Red has many meanings in traditional Chinese culture and has always been a color associated with strong emotions. The most common emotions associated with red are those of good fortune and joy. During Chinese New Year red envelopes with monetary gifts are exchanged in a gesture designed to give the recipient good luck in the coming year. With these culture associations in mind it may be no surprise that the Delicious Red Apple has been gaining popularity in China by leaps and bounds.
As farmers across the country change the makeup of their orchards to cater to the changing american palette many orchards in Washington State have stayed with the Red Delicious and are finding their loyalty to the variety to be paying off. As imports to China have increased steadily over the last decades and the buying power of the Chinese middle class has increased, the demand for Red Delicious has gone through the roof. Economists have speculated that the demand for the variety has far less to do with it’s taste and far more to do with the culture significance of munching on a red snack.