The name derives from little spots that look like starbursts, said Carolyn Ross, associate professor in the WSU School of Food Science. She said the name selection was an extensive process.
“I think people didn’t realize how much names can influence their purchasing behavior until they started talking about them,” she said.
Ross hosted several focus groups in Washington locations including Pullman, Yakima and Seattle. Participants were presented with a list of potential names to discuss.
During the process a theme emerged due to the pattern on the rosy cheeks of the apple.
“One of the striking things about the apple is that it’s got lenticels, little spots that look like starbursts,” said Ross, “so people were interested in pursuing names related to outer space and the cosmos.” She added that the name conveyed how people described how the apple affects the senses.
“They liked having that little bit of information in the name so that when you are in the apple section trying to decide which apple to purchase you have some idea of what to expect,” Ross said. One of the outstanding attributes of this apple is its crisp texture. “Crisp” also links the WSU apple to its parent, Honeycrisp.
Here’s what the university also said in a news release:
In addition to the focus groups, Proprietary Variety Management (PVM), a Yakima-based company specializing in the management of proprietary varieties, surveyed shoppers in retail locations. PVM is assisting WSU with branding, licensing and collecting royalties for the apple.
Cosmic Crisp apples will not be widely available to consumers until 2019. WSU is working with a number of Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute-affiliated nurseries and other producers to increase WA 38 planting stock.
The university is holding a drawing to assign the limited number of trees available to Washington growers for planting in 2017. The drawing, which has received more than 260 applications, closes May 31, 2014. To enter the WA 38 drawing, visithttp://WA38.wsu.edu.
PVM will work with WSU and the Washington apple industry to develop a logo and graphics to support the brand launch before the fruit goes to market.
Cosmic Crisp was developed by crossing Enterprise and Honeycrisp in 1997.
The tree is upright and spreading with moderately low vigor, so it won’t grow rampantly or oversized. It is precocious, meaning it will start producing fruit at a younger age, with spur development beginning on 2-year-old wood.
Yield is within the range of other locally grown apple cultivars. The fruit ripens in late September, is large and round/conical with 90 to 100 percent of the surface covered with a rich red-purple color over a green-yellow background.
It has been highly rated for its sweet, tangy flavor and has exceptional storability.
Look for further reporting on WA 38 and other new varieties in our June 1 issue.
Appended clarification: The new apple variety developed by Washington State University remains known as WA 38. For marketing purposes, the brand name, or trademark, that WSU has selected for use with the WA 38 variety is Cosmic Crisp.
Casey Corr was the managing editor of Good Fruit Grower, overseeing the magazine’s editorial, production, sales and marketing, and budget from 2012 through May 2018. Read his stories Phone: (509) 853-3512 -- here