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Short Stories by Peter Dabbene

The Incredible Grāpple


Introduction to the Grāpple


            I’ve long been fascinated by exotic and unusual fruit. Every trip to the supermarket tends to result in the purchase of some strange-looking seeded edible of unknown provenance. None of my previous discoveries, however, can compare to the incredible Grāpple™.

            How often have you said to yourself, “I’d like an apple, but I’d also like a grape. Oh, bother!” Well, fret no more. Imagine the sweet distinctive flavor of Concord grapes combined with the crispness of a fresh, juicy Washington Extra Fancy apple. Now grab hold of your chair and stop imagining, because it’s real.

            First, a note on pronunciation: the fruit in question is not, as I was foolish enough to think at first, a Grapple (gr + apple). “Grapple” implies fighting, struggling, and is inherently non-trademarkable, regardless of any possible alternative meanings.

            Grāpple™, on the other hand (pronounced “Grape-L”), is not only unique, it also distills the essence of this 21st century fruit in two short syllables, more effectively than “Grapple” ever could. The good people at Flavored Fruits, LLC have dedicated themselves to perpetuating this unique combination of grape and apple.

            A grape and an apple? Isn’t that, you might be saying, like mixing a Chihuahua and a Saint Bernard – not just difficult, but very possibly unwise?

            Before you cry “Frankenfood!” let me assure you that the Grāpple™ is 100% safe, and is not genetically altered in any way. All ingredients are USDA and FDA approved and the process of Grāpple-making has been licensed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Jewish readers should note that at this time, Grāpple™ brand apples are not certified Kosher.           

            According to Grāpple-sponsored research, the fruit is equally at home sliced up in salads, as a before dinner appetizer or as an after dinner snack. The Grāpple™ website describes the grape flavor as “exciting,” and kids are claimed to “go wild” over Grāpples™. As this reporter has not been able to adequately determine the meaning of these statements, it is advised that tranquilizers and/or disciplinary instruments be kept at hand when feeding Grāpples™ to minors.


The Secret Formula

According to the Grāpple™ website (www.grapplefruits.com), Grāpple™ brand apples begin as ordinary Washington Extra Fancy Fuji Apples. The process of creating a Grāpple™ is said to be “complex.” Flavored Fruits, LLC summarizes the process as follows:

Fuji apples are dipped into a combination of pure water and Concord grape flavoring for a short time. They are then moved into cold storage for few days while the flavor takes hold. After which they are packed and shipped out to grocery stores.


            Deciphering this code would prove difficult – there is no Rosetta Stone to help interpret the nebulous wording of product marketing. How long is “a short time”? How cold is “cold storage”? Is the use of “few days” instead of “a few days” significant, or is it just a red herring designed to frustrate those who would seek the truth about the Grāpple™? Or is it merely a simple error in transcription? Flavored Fruits, LLC isn’t talking.

Despite all this uncertainty, it seems safe to assume that the secret process of creating a Grāpple™ does indeed involve dipping an apple into artificial grape flavoring, no doubt the result of years of experimentation. One wonders – what other methods were tried and rejected? Dipping the apple into real grape flavoring? Spraying grape favoring at the apple? Pouring grape flavoring on top of the apple? We can only imagine.

As I pursued the secrets of the Grāpple™ further, I was overcome by a foreboding, ominous feeling of impending doom, a kind of “sixth sense” indicating that I was getting close – maybe too close. Men have killed for less, after all.  For now, it may be safest to chalk it up to a trade secret, on a par with other culinary mysteries, like the formula for Coca-Cola or the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. 


The Gpple Survey


In backing off from my research, I decided to relax and simply enjoy the grapey aroma and distinctively apple-ish taste of the wonderful Grāpple™, and to make my delight known to the creators. I decided to offer my ebullient feedback through the online “Grāpple™ Survey.” 

What attracted me to the Grāpple™? the survey asks, offering choices such as: signage; essence; newspaper advertisement; packing; display; price; curiosity. Only one can be selected! Having missed the nationwide Grāpple™ newspaper advertising blitz, I had to eliminate that choice. Curiosity was surely part of the reason for my Grāpple™ purchase, but what was it, at heart, that truly drew me in?

Despite its other attractions (such as excellent packing and signage), what really attracted me to the Grāpple™ was, of course, its essence – the simple ingenuity of creating artificially what nature never quite got around to.       

            Next question: Who did you buy the Grāpple™ for? Children; spouse; yourself; a gift; other. Would you buy a 1997 Romanée Conti Burgundy for a child? A 1966 Corvette BB roadster? Legal prohibitions notwithstanding, of course you wouldn’t. Nor would you buy one for anyone but yourself, unless you liked the other person very, very, very much. It’s the same thing with Grāpples™.

            When it came to rating my overall Grāpple™ experience, the survey creators wisely set the default response as “fantastic!” This saves valuable time, as no messy scrolling is necessary to sort past the other, seldom used options:  Very Good; Good; Just OK; Unsatisfactory. The Grāpple™, “Just OK”? Blasphemy! Sacrilege!!

            Would you like to see other flavors offered in future? is the next item, its  postmodern/Britslang omission of “the” disguising the enormity of this question. Are we, as a society, ready for more flavors from the creators of the Grāpple™ in future? Yes, I say, displaying unprecedented finger power as I left-click my approval. Yes!!!! Yes!!!!!

            What other flavors would you like to experience? is the survey’s natural follow-up question. The mind reels at the possibilities. Banapples? Nectarados? Mangerines? Or perhaps more exotic combinations, like pairing the ugli fruit and the common date (“The Ugli Date”), or maybe African monkey bread mixed with the kumquat (“The Monkey Kum”)? Feel free to put your own favorites together, and be sure to let the Grāpple™ folks know about your ideas!


The Future


What will be the Grāpple™’s place in history? Does it have a future as a curative for hopelessly lethargic children? Will it be the first in a long line of specialized fruit, designed to cater to modern, sophisticated palates? Will it prove to be nothing more than a flawed (but ambitious) marketing experiment? Stay alert, readers, and be sure to keep an eye on that produce aisle!





Publication details:
Dabbene, Peter. (2009). "The Incredible Grāpple." peterdabbene.com (accessed ).

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