Recent Comments

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: lee in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    Thanks all, for contributing to this lively discussion. I appreciate your varying points of view and the way the discussion is being carried out on the site. Once again, I'm reminded of the great local food community we've got and why this site is so rewarding and fun.

    Thanks especially to Dennis of Pepin Heights, for being willing to take part in the discussion and address the community's thoughts and concerns head on. It's this conversation - coupled with some real transparency and a view towards practical realities - that will get us to the point where we understand enough to make good decisions about what we eat and who we support.

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: sd in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    Hmmm ... I saw SweeTangos at the Suburban Ave. (St. Paul) Byerly's last week, so I picked up a few.

    I sampled them later that day with some friends. How good this highly-anticipated apple was going to be! Or not. Maybe it was the hype that accompanies the SweeTango -- or maybe I just picked up a few duds. But I have to say it was not a strikingly beautiful apple; several of those on display had a kind of netting on the skin that took away from the fairy-tale skin of the perfect apple. Beyond that, they were juicy but the taste was just ... sweet, and, as another poster pointed out, somewhat shallow.

    I'll try them again if I see them just to give them a fair shake. But I'd sooner stick with Honeycrisps or Zestars or even some other lesser-known varieties.

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: Dennis Courtier in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    Hello all...
    I own Pepin Heights. My reaction as I read these posts ranges from alarm to amusement. Maybe I can straighten out a few misconceptions with real facts.

    Every commercial apple grower in Minnesota can grow and sell this great new apple be they large or small. There are, give or take, about 110 orchards in the state and 87 have already planted trees. There are some limitations on this variety, and there is an agreement to sign, but it is just not that difficult. Interested growers should contact us directly.

    Looking forward, most great new apple varieties from breeding programs all over the world will be "managed" instead of "open" release as was common in the past. Some growers find this change upsetting. There are several reasons for this industry wide change, but mostly it is because breeding programs need more money to continue operating.

    The University selected Pepin Heights to manage this variety in a competitive process. As we submitted our proposal and negotiated the arrangement we had no idea who our competition was. They might have been local, national, or international. Minnesotans should be happy the "U" selected a local company.

    Many Land Grant Universities license their intellectual property to help offset costs. Products from pharmaceuticals to soybeans, and yes, even apple varieties are patented "inventions". As our legislatures have cut funding they have asked our Universities to be more business-like, and that is what they are doing.

    Minnesota grows some really great apples, but we have a very small apple industry. We're 28th nationally in production, accounting for only .2% of national production.
    Pepin Heights does grow more apples than anybody else in Minnesota, but we are only medium size by Midwestern standards and quite small by West Coast standards. That said, we are nationally and internationally recognized for for our ability to identify and commercialize new varieties.

    All the SweeTango media kerfuffle is not a marketing ploy to create demand for a product that doesn't exist. There are about 60,000 two and three year old trees in the ground in Minnesota alone (half of these in the hands of independent licensed growers). Be patient, SweeTangos are coming and I promise you, well worth the wait...

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: Michael in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    Shouldn't the market dictate what products are inferior? Isn't it the consumers choice to purchase the products they wish? If the consumers taxes paid to create this product, why should one private company control the rights to distribution? With the $8,000,000 the U of M made off of Honeycrisps, could they not have set up a proper licensing agency of their own rather than an outside private firm?

    If this were a matter of a federal governmental agency with a sole private benefactor the press would be busy.

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: Farmer John in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    On todays dwarfing rootstocks, 1000 trees is less than 2 acres. The University wants a share of the apple sales, not just the tree sales. Imagine if the Sweetango is as successful as Honeycrisp. The few farmers on Pepin Heights A-list expand dramatically. Those growers who have a record of selling apples to a Pepin Heights competitor will be out of the loop. Any chance of competition in the apple packing business? The University should never have entered any agreement that picks winners and losers in agriculture, for short term gain, by creating a monopoly. This arrangement puts all growers nationally who have not PURCHASED the license to grow Sweetango in the position of opposing the success of a variety.
    Does the research dept at U of M exist to profit the University? Or does this land grant University exist to benfit the citizens who have built it and support it?

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: Alex in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    It sounds very sneaky of the U to be citing maintaining quality as a reason to monopolize the market for an apple, especially one that apparently is not the messiah apple (as Lee's comment points out). Even ignoring the fact that public money is lining the pockets of the largest apple orchard in Minnesota (because we know that agribusiness already takes in a good amount of public money), this SweeTango business sounds like it came out of meetings in smoke-filled rooms. I have not heard about how the U got "taken advantage" of over the honeycrisp - could someone fill me in?

    I am very skeptical at this point at the mist surrounding this wonder fruit. Maybe once you pull down the curtain, there is just a small, frail apple who was controlling an empire of witches and yellow brick roads under the name SweeTango.

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: Anonymous in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    I guess I'm curious - there's a lot of marketing buzz about this apple and a reference to having sampled it at Lunds. Anywhere else where these "mysterious" apples are known to be available to try or purchase?

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: lee in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    Thanks so much for all of your feedback. Here are a few other things I'd like to mention about the SweeTango:

    The SweeTango is a hybrid of the Zestar and the HoneyCrisp. This gives it a couple of big selling ponits: first, it's crisp and sweet like the HoneyCrisp (I've heard, I haven't tasted it); second, it comes way early in the season, like the Zestar. I've also heard that the skin of a SweeTango is tough. Can anyone confirm?

    My understanding of the U of M deal is that the U is trying to maintain an ongoing revenue source - not just controlling quality. This year, their patent on the HoneyCrisp expires, meaning that they will no longer collect a bounty on every HoneyCrisp tree that gets planted. By partnering with Pepin Heights exclusively, the U has created a revenue stream that will not expire.

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: Ben in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    That was essentially the point I was trying to make, perhaps "ploy" wasn't the correct term. The shortage creates an illusion of demand and both the U and Pepin Heights will benefit when they release it in full in another year or so because of said "demand". Nice way to generate little publicity for another name added to the already long list of apples.

    I love apples but at this point it better make pie for me if its going to be worth hunting all over the state to find. There's plenty of awesome alternatives that are readily available for a whole lot less work.

  • 5 years 3 weeks ago by: Amy M Boland in reply to: Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

    You know, I tried the SweeTango during the 10 minutes it was in Lunds.

    The apple is beautiful, amazingly crisp, juicy as all get out, and the flavor is... um... sweet. Just sweet. I didn't notice any of those spices.

    So it's like a date with an 18-year-old. The apple gets a lot of attention with its beauty and firmness, and the sweetness is an initial attention-getter. But ultimately, we don't have much to talk about. There's just no depth of flavor.

    SweeTango is no marketing PLOY, unless you think all marketing is a ploy (it's not). I'd call it more of an advertising success. A lot of people are very excited about a new apple that nobody really needs and is not better than the apples we already have. But everyone still wants to try it. It's like Cabbage Patch Kids: the panache of scarcity will eventually give way to the banality of oversupply.