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'Cosmic Crisp': Researchers Develop A New Apple

DON GONYEA, HOST:

And we've got a couple of minutes now to tell you about a brand-new apple product - one with a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. And it's predicted to fly off the shelves this holiday season. But this one you can only find in your supermarket's produce aisle.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLE BEING BITTEN)

GONYEA: The Cosmic Crisp is an actual apple - a cross between the Enterprise and Honeycrisp varieties.

KATE EVANS: I can't speak with my mouth full (laughter). When you release an apple, you have to get the name out there because consumers are purchasing apples by name.

GONYEA: Kate Evans helped create it. She runs the apple-breeding program at Washington State University.

EVANS: Cosmic Crisp is a extremely crisp and juicy apple, and that's really what hits you when you first bite into it - a good combination of sweetness and tartness.

GONYEA: And now, after more than two decades of development, the Cosmic Crisp is finally on its way to consumers.

EVANS: It's an attractive apple - sort of a darkish red with yellow background - got its name because of the white lenticels on the surface that looked a little bit like stars in the cosmos. And also when you slice it or bite into it, it's very slow to brown. So that's kind of nice - is it keeps its color.

GONYEA: The Cosmic Crisp is the result of time-consuming traditional plant breeding.

EVANS: Gregor Mendel, I'm sure, would absolutely recognize what we're doing. It's very, very similar. I mean, we're talking about genetics, and segregation is exactly the same.

GONYEA: It took two decades to go from the initial cross-selection in 1997 until saplings were planted commercially in 2017. Washington State University owns the patent, and Evans says the school has a vested interest in the apple's success.

EVANS: There is a tree royalty and also a production royalty. Some funding comes back into the university from every tree that is sold but also every box of fruit that's sold as well.

GONYEA: And that funding helps Evans and her team continue their work.

EVANS: It is ongoing. We're always looking for that next new apple.

GONYEA: So when you crunch into your first Cosmic Crisp...

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLE BEING BITTEN)

GONYEA: ...Thank horticulture professor Kate Evans and her apple-breeding program at Washington State University. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.