The Apple That Shall Not Be Named

the latest fruit from the University of Minnesota may not be a bad apple, but it’s got a bad name

Laura Buchholz

university of minnesota
Image: University of Minnesota

Fall has arrived, and that means it’s time for the latest fruit to fall out of the chute from the University of Minnesota’s apple lab.This year, the fresh meat is called “First Kiss,” and while the business section of the Minnesota Public Radio News web site has given the newcomer glowing reviews, it’s hard to ignore how bad of a name this is for an apple. It’s so bad that it’s hard to write, and even harder to say out loud, and so for the purposes of this essay, I will be referring to said apple as FK.

First of all, when you name an apple “first kiss,” you put people in the awkward position of imagining a make-out session with fruit.

First of all, when you name an apple FK, you put people in the awkward position of imagining a make-out session with fruit. So already we’re starting in a hole. The other problem is the word “first” – it’s limiting and problematic. That’s because after you’ve had your f**** k*** (read: bite #1), you are still likely going to have a lot of apple left. By definition, if you bite a FK apple a second time, you’ve already violated the brand of the apple. If you want to maintain brand integrity, you have to throw the rest of the apple to the deer. And that doesn’t seem fair.

In short, the FK is putting us all in a bad position.

From what I’ve read, however, the FK is a tart-sweet crunchy apple similar to the Honeycrisp, and as such is bound to be popular. It’s also bred to be ready for action a full month before the Honeycrisp. One can’t help but wonder how the Honeycrisp feels about this. Probably a little bit how the State Theatre feels about the Pablo. But I digress. The point is not that the FK is a bad apple. The point isn’t even that we’re apparently OK with the scientists in little white coats and their cadre of overconfident copywriters ruling our galaxy of apples. Although maybe we should think about that a little bit more.

It’s really about the name.

Think about the names given to pharmaceuticals. I watch enough MSNBC to know that Otezla is for psoriasis, Nupercainal is for hemorrhoids, and Peyronie’s disease is when your penis is shaped like a hook. Got it. So, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, technically shouldn’t an apple be considered a pharmaceutical that also deserves a corporate-sounding made-up name? The Otezla Red, the Peyronie – even the Nupercapple is something I would prefer to the apple herein known as FK.

The University of Minnesota has named other apples without disastrous results. The Zestar and the Frostbite come to mind. Honeycrisp is a fine name. And so with the FK, we are ultimately left wondering what went wrong. We may never get answers in this lifetime.

Granted, this is not a real problem. The only risk here is that I’m actually going to like the FK, in which case I’ll have to gradually come to accept its name, and then eventually it will become normal, much like the painful inner journey we all face when we meet children named “Jace” or “Poppy.” The FK will in time become basic, accepted, no big deal. I get this.

And lest someone accuse me of apple negativity, let it be known that I currently have two bushels of Cortlands waiting in the kitchen to be made into applesauce. I also have a case of apple ale sitting in a box in my dining room. I am apple positive. I am an apple enthusiast. But still – I won’t be making out with the FK apple.

Unless I REALLY fall in love with it. And then that will be a different column.

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