Red delicious apples tasted good until farmers bred the flavor out

Red delicious apples, notorious for their grainy texture and bland flavor, were the country's best-selling apple until 2018. After Iowa farmer Jesse Hiatt discovered the variety in his orchard in the 1880s, he paid attention to its sweet taste. He eventually submitted it into a contest.

After one bite of Hiatt's creation, the president of Stark Brothers exclaimed, "My! This apple is delicious!" He paused, then declared, "That will be its name!"

From New England Today

The apple boomed in popularity, becoming a best-seller in the 1940s. Farmers, eager to attract customers, began selecting the most visually appealing apples when planting new trees. Over the next decades, prioritizing aesthetics led to the variety's downfall.

When Red Delicious apples mutated toward more consistent coloring — i.e., brighter reds, less striping — farmers favored them, because this was a marketable quality. And therein lies the problem.

"It turns out that a lot of the genes that coded for the flavor-producing compounds were on the same chromosomes as the genes for the yellow striped skin," Traverso explains, "so as you favored the more consistently colored apples, you were essentially disfavoring the same genes that coded for great flavor."

From New England Today

As red delicious apples gradually became more beautiful, they also became less tasty.