Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mahana Red (Braeburn)

Today's apple is attractive and big, with red to deep red streaks, sweet, juicy, and crisp.

And it's a fraud.

That is, it's a Braeburn marketed under another name. And frankly, I've had better Braeburns.

Not that there is anything wrong with Braeburn, but Mahana is marketed as a new "found sapling" variety when it is no such thing.

Dear marketers: Do you dislike Braeburn? Are you ashamed of it? Is there something wrong with the brand?

The Mahana trademark doesn't rightly belong in my catalog of apples at all. However, I want to tell people what they are getting, or what they got, so I can't ignore it either.

The patent holder put out a lot of tosh about this variety, but the plant patent tells the tale.

The full name is Mahana Red Braeburn and it's a sport—a genetic mutation—found on a Braeburn tree in an orchard in New Zealand.

Occasionally a sport is so different from its parent as to be like a brand new variety. Mahana's claim to fame, according to the patent, is as follows: It is redder.

This regular Braeburn is also red
I'm not even sure that is accurate. Check out this plain-vanilla Braeburn from 2009; it's plenty red.

Of course the 2009 Braeburn may have been a redder sport as well; there are lots of them and you wouldn't normally know you are eating one.

Fortunately we have been spared a high-powered marketing campaign every time a farmer finds a branch bearing a variant whose blush covers 5% more.

Unfortunately, this deceptive marketing ploy is becoming a trend. Kiku is really Fuji and Joburn is just another word for Braeburn again.

I have another Mahana Red Braeburn, but I am not going to go out and buy a regular Braeburn and solemnly taste-test them together to see if, maybe, there is any meaningful difference. There isn't.

The tapered shape of this Mahana Braeburn was more typical. 
By the way, here are my original tasting notes.

Moderately ribbed and squat, though most are more elongated and look like a brawny red delicious.

Many distinct light lenticels. Sweet aroma, closed calyx.

Coarse juicy yellow flesh, crisp and sweet.

Vaguely vinous notes and some very fleeting savory touches. Lush and undemanding. Pleasant but nothing special.


  1. Thanks for the tip-off, Adam.

    I know it's a little different but about a month ago I picked up some Cripps Pink since I had never had them before. While eating the first one I navigated to your blog to see what your impressions were and realized it's the more generic (yet still trademarked and oddly less used?) name for Pink Lady, which I've had before. I felt a little duped.

    1. Steve, yes, Cripps Pink. I imagine the marketers saying something like this:

      "Nice apple but lose the name, besides that name is in the public domain so let's brand the heck out of a nice trademark that we can control forever. How about, say, Pink Lady®?"

      which is essentially what they did with Sweetango too, the variety name is Minnieska.

      With Mahana Red it feels to me like the thinking was more like this:

      "We can charge more for this apple if we fool people int thinking it is something new and special."

      Probably a distinction that matters only to an apple nerd like me, but the second of those feels like a cheat, the first is just plain old marketing.

      Ironically Pink Lady seems to have lost control of its brand and the name may have entered the public domain.

      I happen to think "Cripps Pink" is a pretty good name for an apple, so I hope the Pink Lady people got their money's worth.


Join the conversation! We'd love to know what you think.