In far off Western Australia a few decades ago, an apple breeder named John Cripps crossed Golden Delicious with Lady Williams, and came up with an exceptional seedling that became known as Pink Lady (or Cripps Pink). This new variety had wonderful flavour, an attractive pink blush, was a good keeper and the people loved it.
But there was a problem - Pink Lady was rather delicate. Small superficial bruises would often be visible on the non-blushed part of the apple. The major supermarkets kept insisting that apple growers must supply them with more highly coloured Pink Lady, so the bruises were less obvious. The supermarket demands were unreasonable. Growers tried every trick in the book to get more pink colour on the Pink Lady - reflective sheets under the trees, leaf plucking around every fruit, special nutritional sprays, delaying harvest, and so on. Fruit quality sometimes suffered, growing costs went up, but the returns to growers did not. So the growers were not happy, the supermarkets were not happy, but the consumers were still being supplied with some the best tasting apples ever.
Then a few growers independently discovered in their Pink Lady blocks some "bud sports" (mutations) - high colour "Pink Lady", that they registered under Plant Variety Rights and set about commercializing the new strains. With almost no background (greenish yellow) colour visible on these high coloured apples, small bruises were invisible. And they could be picked early, all at once. Growing costs were lower. The growers were happy, and the supermarkets were happy.
But there was a problem - the new "Pink Lady" was not Pink Lady. It was red, not pink. It was too acidic. It lacked the flavour of a true Pink Lady. And as sure as night follows day, consumers will become increasingly dissatisfied and start complaining that Pink Lady is not as good as it used to be. And that is because it is not!
Is there a parallel here with Red Delicious? Presumably the original Delicious did have a delicious flavour - but the Red Delicious available on supermarket shelves in Australia today have about as much flavour as a raw potato.
Which highlights once again, that when fruit is grown for its appearance rather than flavour or nutritional value, the consumer loses out.
As you may have guessed, we are keeping our original Pink Lady trees. And we have grafted the young trees of the new "Pink Lady" strain back to heritage varieties such as Orleans Reinette, Sturmer Pippin, Pine Golden Pippin and Bramley Seedling. Because they taste good!