Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Cosmic Crisp vs Honeycrisp smackdown

Two large apples, red over yellow

You knew this was coming, right?

I just ate these guys, and am feeling—sugared out.

The spectacular commercial success of Honeycrisp (right) has spawned a generation of challengers. Today comes Cosmic Crisp to claim the Saccharine Crown.

If you are a Honeycrisp fan, you've got to be wondering how the challenger stacks up.

Cosmic Crisp, at left, blushes deep red, if orange tinged, over yellow. The apple is slightly tapered but mostly cylindrical, with some ribbing, and is pretty hefty without being positively huge.

Lenticel dots decorate a red field
Starry, starry night

Notice the large irregular lenticel dots. These are the "cosmic" in cosmic crisp, supposedly suggesting the stars in the firmament.

On other samples these are small and quite distinct. Also, the blush can be more saturated than as shown. See, for instance, the example depicted below.

My Honeycrisp is smaller than most I have seen. It has a classical tapered shape and a streaky orange blush that makes its Cosmic offspring (Honeycrisp is Cosmic's father) look downright purple by comparison. It's also less ribbed.
The many tiny lenticels are mostly lost in the streaks, but up close I can see that each is slightly recessed into the peel.

These are both quite handsome each in their own way. I have to call the beauty contest a draw.


But who cares about that? What do they do in your mouth?

A large red apple
Cosmic Crisp
Cosmic Crisp is crisp and sweet, with a flavor that is both floral and just a little smokey. The flesh is yellow and coarse.

With Cosmic in my mouth, Honey is frankly underwhelming.

Its crunch is great, better than its rival's, but its flavors are just tired.

And also—but look, there is something that must be said about this match­up.

This is not a prime Honeycrisp.

Don't get me wrong, it is a very good late-­winter sample. I certainly paid a prime price for mine at a prime supermarket (where I am not, by the way, a prime member).

Nonetheless, Honeycrisp just does not hold up as well in storage.

Crimson Crisp does, which is one of its claims to excellence. But in a sense this is not a true apples-­to­-apples comparison: I'd need a time machine to September or late August for that.

A prime Honeycrisp

This Honey is not even as good as my January sample, which was clearly fading.

The other thing about this Honeycrisp is that it grew in Canada. Perhaps from one of those trees that Nova Scotia paid farmers to plant after ripping out their McIntosh.

Maybe that northern exposure is the reason this Honeycrisp is not as sweet as any of the others I have sampled.

It's not even as sweet as the Cosmic Crisp. Which, right now at any rate, really is the better apple.

Some more comparisons: Honeycrisp is crisper, lighter, and less dense. Its flesh is a lighter yellow. It may be a little juicier. (Maybe.)

However you feel about Honeycrisp, this time of year Cosmic Crisp's better flavors give it the edge.

Which is the comparison that matters now.

P.S. Don't get me started on the names of these varieties.



  1. Brilliant! If you can stomach it then I'll look forward to your fall review of the comparison :)

    I can't help but wonder if 'storage' is the new goal for the industry or are we simply discussing this more due to the time of year?

    1. My stomach is at your service, but the time-machine problem may still apply, at least for a while.

  2. Your assessment is spot on: Cosmic is crisper and lasts longer. And now I can tell them apart. Thanks. Love your blog name.

    1. They are both hefty hefty apples, but the color difference is a give-away.

  3. P.S. I loathe and despise a pithy apple. Cosmic Crisp saves me from that disappointment.

  4. My very favorite apple. Tangy,
    Moderately Tart, crisp & crunchy….but What alternative will I eat when it is no longer in season?

    1. @Anony, you might enjoy this list of alternatives by season, though I wrote it before the crowd of 2nd-gen Honeycrisp types (like Cosmic) came to market.


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