They compared apples with apples...and the gala won

The Cox's orange pippin is no longer Britain's favourite. Tom Peck reports

To be usurped by one's grandson is a historical rarity, as the Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos, were he alive today, would testify. Yet that most ignominious of clubs, of which the 14th century Greek in the only notable member, now boasts a new recruit. The hundred year reign of the Cox's orange pippin as the nation's favourite apple, has been brought to an end by an upstart descendant from New Zealand.

More than 22,000 tons of Gala apples, first imported to the UK from New Zealand in the 1980s, were sold in Britain's supermarkets last season. In comparison, 21,600 tons of Cox's were sold, figures from trade body English Apples and Pears, published by The Grocer magazine, show.

That the Cox's orange pippin is the tastier, more complex and superior apple is widely agreed. But the Gala – a cross between the Golden Delicious and the Kidd's Orange Red, itself a cross of the Cox's orange pippin and the Red Delicious – is easier to store, has a higher yield and is available all year round. It is these factors, rather than taste, that are behind its success.

"The Cox is a better tasting apple and that still stands," said Mike Austin, a guide at Brogdale Farm in Kent, home to the National Fruit Collection, one of the largest collections of fruit trees and plants in the world. "But commercially speaking Gala has taken over. The Cox's season is November, December and January. When people buy Cox's in March and April they are disappointed by the flavour – they've been picked unripe and kept in cold storage. They haven't had been allowed to develop their full flavour."

That the Cox no longer reigns supreme is cause for considerable glumness for English apple aficionados: the tangy apple, more so than any other home-grown produce, is English to the core.

Its taste is a result of that other national talking point – the English weather. "Cox's orange pippin will only really grow successfully in the UK. You need our cool temperate climates; dodgy summers, mild winters," said Richard Borrie, the man behind the world's biggest apple growing information website, (ironically enough).

"Lots of Americans ask me how to grow the orange pippin, but they can't: it's too hot. It's an English apple. It loves our miserable weather. Gala will grow in any climate; the UK as well as warmer areas – France, Italy, South Africa, Chile, even parts of the US. It will grow successfully in a very wide range of climates. It's very productive, and easy to grow. It's surprising really, that the orange pippin has held on for so long."

But the orange pippin's decline may also owe something to the rise of a new generation of taste buds. "It's a generational thing," said Mike Austin. "The older person will like the tangy flavour of the Cox. The younger generation prefer the crunchy, juicy, less tangy apple. It's what they've been brought up on. They haven't really had experience of tasting the more sophisticated Cox. It is sad because the Cox is the best tasting of all the apples. Not everyone likes it but it has that nice tangy flavour and aroma. Public tastes have changed."

Gill Smith, from Waitrose, agrees.

"It's no surprise that the Gala has replaced the Cox in the No 1 slot, as British customers have developed a taste for sweet crunchy apples, rather than softer aromatic apples. While the Cox will always have a loyal following, it has been overtaken by both the Gala and the Braeburn among our customers," she said.

"The Jazz apple – another sweet and crunchy variety – is also in demand and is currently seeing the fastest growth of all. At our own orchards at the Waitrose Farm in Leckford, Hampshire, we've very much geared our plantings around customers' changing tastes in apples. We've planted thousands of Gala, Braeburn and Jazz, in addition to the familiar Cox."

These veritable youngsters it seems are no respecters of history, of which the Cox's is unmatched. In the 1820s Richard Cox, a wealthy brewer from Bermondsey retired to the country to pursue his hobby of horticulture. At "The Lawns", the name of his substantial Georgian house, Cox took a Ribston pippin, pollinated it with a Blenheim orange, and waited for a decade, as a minor miracle slowly unfolded in his back garden. "When perfectly ripe, [it is] deliciously sweet and enticing, with rich, intense, aromatic flavour," notes Joan Morgan, the great authority on the English apple, describing the Cox in The New Book of Apples. "Spicy, honeyed, nutty, pear-like... subtle blend of great complexity..."

A dignified history undoubtedly, but the apple is no stranger to humiliation. Now, "The Lawns" have been subsumed by Slough, and on its site sits a Seventies block of flats, still bearing its name. The gardens are a carpet of asphalt on the roaring Heathrow flight path.

The new Generation

* Jazz

An excellent strong flavour that puts it ahead of many old classic varieties. A pronounced pear-drop sweetness and very little acidity – a characteristic that can lead to blandness.

* Rubens

A dry and fairly soft apple with a noticeable hint of bananas and a very attractive, old-fashioned appearance.

* Pink Lady

The flavour is equal to the best modern varieties, but many prefer a blander taste. Attractive and deservedly popular.

* Kanzi

Right up there with the old classic apple varieties when it comes to flavour. Delicate, with a less pronounced flavour and lighter flesh.

* Ariane

The flesh is fairly dense, cream-coloured, and not particularly juicy. The flavour is very acceptable – a hint of pear-drop, neither too sweet nor too sharp. (Source:

The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition