If you had to guess, what would you say is the most popular apple in America? Probably Red Delicious, right? It's what many of us grew up eating, after all. However, for the first time in more than five decades, a new apple is poised to dethrone Red Delicious and claim the crown of most popular apple variety: the Gala.
The U.S. Apple Association (also known as USApple) releases an annual estimate for each year's apple crop. Because farmers will grow more "popular" apples to keep up with demand, overall production numbers are a good indicator of what kinds of produce Americans wants. According to USApple's predictions, the top five apples in terms of this year's forecast are Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Honeycrisp, in that order.
Apple farmers in the United States grew 49.5 million units of Gala apples last year. (A unit is 42 pounds.) This year, that number is predicted to rise to 52.4 million. That figure narrowly edges out Red Delicious for the top spot. Overall Red Delicious production was at 57.9 million in 2017 and is expected to decrease to 51.7 million in 2018.
Gala apples were created in New Zealand and are a cross between Golden Delicious and Kidd’s Orange Red, which is popular in England. They made their way to the United States back in the '70s, and in the last 40 years they've steadily grown in popularity and appeal. The taste of a Gala apple has been described as "mildly sweet and vanilla-like, with a floral aroma. Gala has a thinner skin when compared with other popular apple varieties."
An apple to watch is the Honeycrisp, which shot past Golden Delicious to claim the fifth spot. USApple predicts Honeycrisp will enjoy the third spot next year if trends continue, beating out Granny Smith and Fuji. In 2017, 19.3 million units of Honeycrisp apples were produced, and that number is predicted to reach 23.5 million in 2018.
The benefits of apples — especially when they're used to make apple cider vinegar — are well documented. So no matter your preference, you can still enjoy this sweet, red fruit and know you're doing your body a favor!