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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 06/30/2011

The mystery of non-vanishing apples

Last week my husband I ran a morning bagel sale at our kids’ high school. As a fundraiser for the school music program and a service for the students, we took on the tradition of organizing the sale of plain bagels (with cream cheese or buttery spread) and bottled water and other non-sugary beverages in the half hour or so before final exams began.

(Yes, we know that bagels are not the ideal pre-exam breakfast. But having just inherited this volunteer activity, we didn’t think we should monkey with tradition.)

When we’d participated in the sale in years past, we’d noted that the bowl containing a few apples, oranges and bananas, offered at 75 cents a piece, went largely untouched. So we decided to offer only apples and sell them for 25 cents each. We bought two big bags of what looked to us like delicious Red Delicious apples from Costco and set them out, front and center, on the bagel-sale table.

Even at that reduced price, the apples didn’t move. Faced with the prospect of dragging five dozen apples home, we decided to offer them free of charge. My husband wrote a big sign announcing the fruit was free and placed the bowl and sign right in front of the cash register.

I believe two apples were taken.

Ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out why.

These kids are smart, nice, well-rounded, personable, highly educated young people. They are, by and large, fit and trim; most participate in sports, and, all in all, you’d say they seem a very healthy group of people. Yet apparently free apples on exam day have no place in their lives.

I speculated that perhaps because these kids have been told in health class every year that since grade school that fruit is good for them, their rejection of the apples was born either of fruit fatigue or subtle rebellion.

My mother’s neighbor, with whom I shared this story this evening, said her now-grown kids (one of whom has been my best friend since I was about 4), would never have grabbed an apple, either. Her stance was that, with so many other tasty foods available to them, kids aren’t inclined to choose apples because they just don’t like them that much.

Our own daughter, a regular apple-eater at home but a shunner of the bagel-sale apples, says the problem was with those particular apples. “You could tell they came from Costco,” she explained. “They all looked exactly the same.” She reminded me that on grade-school field trips to nearby apple orchards, those same kids had gorged on apples. She argues that the kids were savvy enough to discern the difference between those good fresh apples and the Costco kind.

That makes sense to me, I suppose, though I’m still not sure how you could tell by looking at these apples that they weren’t truly delicious.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please help me solve the case of the non-vanishing apples!

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 06/30/2011

 
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