The newest Washington State University apple, designated WA 38, is one step closer to hitting supermarkets with announcement of its brand name, Cosmic Crisp.
The name was chosen after an extensive process led by Carolyn Ross, associate professor in the WSU School of Food Science.
“It was quite a process,” she said. “I think people didn’t realize how much names can influence their purchasing behavior until they started talking about them.”
Ross hosted several focus groups in Washington locations including Pullman, Yakima and Seattle. Participants were presented with a list of potential names to discuss.
During the process a theme emerged due to the pattern on the rosy cheeks of the apple.
“One of the striking things about the apple is that it’s got lenticels, little spots that look like starbursts,” said Ross, “so people were interested in pursuing names related to outer space and the cosmos.”
Participants also preferred names that hinted at the sensory properties of the apple.
“They liked having that little bit of information in the name so that when you are in the apple section trying to decide which apple to purchase you have some idea of what to expect,” Ross said. One of the outstanding attributes of this apple is its crisp texture. “Crisp” also links the WSU apple to its parent, Honeycrisp.
In addition to the focus groups, Proprietary Variety Management (PVM), a Yakima-based company specializing in the management of proprietary varieties, surveyed shoppers in retail locations. PVM is assisting WSU with branding, licensing and collecting royalties for the apple.
Cosmic Crisp apples will not be widely available to consumers until 2019. WSU is working with a number of Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute-affiliated nurseries and other producers to increase WA 38 planting stock.
The university is holding a drawing to assign the limited number of trees available to Washington growers for planting in 2017. The drawing, which has received more than 260 applications, closes May 31, 2014.
PVM will work with WSU and the Washington apple industry to develop a logo and graphics to support the brand launch before the fruit goes to market.
Cosmic Crisp was developed by crossing Enterprise and Honeycrisp in 1997.
The tree is upright and spreading with moderately low vigor, so it won’t grow rampantly or oversized. It is precocious, meaning it will start producing fruit at a younger age, with spur development beginning on 2-year-old wood.
Yield is within the range of other locally grown apple cultivars. The fruit ripens in late September, is large and round/conical with 90 to 100 percent of the surface covered with a rich red-purple color over a green-yellow background.
It has been highly rated for its sweet, tangy flavor and has exceptional storability.