How to Find the Right Apple

When Life Doesn’t Give a Fig


The History

Apples are a storied fruit. Adam and Eve. William Tell. Snow White. I have so many more, but I decided three was enough to illustrate my point about apples as a cultural touchstone.

In some cultures fruit is consumed after dinner as a dessert, and this is clearly a terrible practice. As a child, I primarily consumed fruit in its natural liquid form, usually with breakfast. I could’ve consumed whole fruits, but this would’ve required feats of physical labor to get past all those peels, piths, and pits. For some reason this did not capture my imagination. Might as well be on the farm.

Later, when being less fat and lazy as a young adult, I began to eat an apple a day, following the popular adage (see there’s a fourth example). Soon I became an apple aficionado, which made me popular with women. Once I was in a grocery store and witnessed a woman eyeing different cultivars and clearly at at a loss.

“Can I help?

The woman grinned at me and sheepishly confided that she was making a pie but didn’t know which type of apple was best.

“Look here,” I said to her. “That’s a Pink Lady. Flavor’s just the right mix of tart of sweet. Firm flesh, so it holds up well in pies.”

She thanked me and grabbed half a dozen before leaving. Later on I reflected on how much of an impression I’d surely made, particularly once she saw how great Pink Ladies are for pies. Just goes to show how attracted women are to the type of man who knows just what he wants in an apple.

The Store

When I walk into the grocery store, I go straight for the produce section. I do this because that’s how grocery stores are always laid out, and who I am to stand athwart their vision for customer flow?

Knowing what you like helps you avoid bad apples. For me these are your Galas, your Fujis, your Red Deliciouseses. These also happen to be the staples of the American supermarket, and are purchased by the same kind of people who buy pre-cooked and -sliced chicken breasts.

Sometimes the placement hinders the apple-seeker. The grocery store nearest me looks like this.

Previously this store had bins of apples scattered around the produce section, perhaps in a tip of the pot to Johnny Appleseed. Now they’re all in one display and modeled in the fashion of a medieval battlement.

This new set-up presents some challenges. For instance, the apples are still placed from bin to bin in a way that defies pattern-seeking. Some types of apple can be found in multiple bins, while others are only in one place. In a further surprising twist, the section reveals itself to be not just for apples but for all spherical fruit roughly the size of a baseball. This includes citrus fruit, like lemons, limes, and oranges; tropical fruit, like kiwis; and stone fruit, like peaches and plums. Also pears.

What to do when the grocery store makes things so challenging?

The Good Life

Wander from bin to bin. Look to your left. A little bit further. There they are. Nestled amongst the oranges. Those’re the ones you’re looking for.

You might be tempted to draw broader life lessons from this, but you shouldn’t. This is all due to a really dumb grocery store with a terrible produce section. Shame on you, Kroger at Edgewood Retail. Shame on you.