Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Food & Drink

Apples, Ranked

Like denim jackets, CBS Sheldons, and air, apples are everywhere this season. You can almost smell the "generic apple promotion" of National Apple Month in the increasingly chilly wind! It only makes sense to rank them -- all of them.

If only there weren't 7,500 varieties of apples in the world! Even though many of them have provocative names like Ashmead's Kernel, Westfield Seek-No-Further, Criterion, and the twin lovers of industry, Enterprise and Wealthy, I wasn't going to get to every apple out there. So I limited my taste test to a dozen from the US Apple Association's list of the popular varieties in America, which collectively account for 90 percent of domestic sales, plus four other regionally abundant apple varieties that would have been weird not to include.

To conduct this ranking, I secured a conference room under the guise of a calendar event named "Important Meeting" and assessed piles of apples by taste, texture, and sheer apple-ness of each variety until I'd meal-replaced myself to pectin shivers. It is an honor and a privilege to present my perfect ranking of -- along with proposed slogans for -- 16 popular apples in North America:

smashed up red delicious apple
Cole Saladino & Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

16. Red Delicious

"A Fucking Atrocity"
Most apple varieties are the product of happenstance and inbreeding, but no cultivar has been quite as petulant as the Red Delicious. As the story goes, some idiot discovered a mutant tree in his orchard, chopped it down, did so again the following year when it sprouted again, and, when it grew back yet again, is quoted as having said, "If thee must grow, thee may," and in the process, revealed himself to be the hokiest pushover in all of history as well as the person responsible for the proliferation of the grossest apple of all time. If I could rank this apple even lower, I would. Fuck this apple.

15. Golden Delicious

"Neither Particularly Golden, Nor Delicious"
A clearly ill-informed naming convention!

14. McIntosh

"Beep Boop Bop Boop"
I have read no less than 18 of essentially the same news article about Ashton Kutcher, great and known Method actor, "going fruitarian" after reading Mucusless Diet Healing System. "The fruitarian diet can lead to, like, some severe issues," he said, recounting his insulin throttling to dangerously low levels while preparing for the role of Apple Computer Man Steve Jobs in the 2013 biopic Jobs. Why am I talking about Jobs? Because while researching these apples -- which disintegrate in your mouth when raw -- I learned that Jef Raskin, the actual guy who conceived of the first Macintosh computer and its name, got snubbed in the movie version of events! But at least their cider flavor makes them prime for baking.

13. Empire

"Sad Flesh"
Being the genetic offspring of a Red Delicious and McIntosh, the Empire -- often encountered as the chunks stained by strawberry juice in catered fruit salads -- was doomed from inception. I'm not mad; I'm disappointed.

jazz apple
Jazz apple | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

12. Jazz

"Dispirited Effort"
If you're a sicko Red Delicious apologist, do yourself a favor and at least eat Jazz apples instead. They're packed full of the same bad flavor and weird aftertaste, but have a texture that doesn't make you want to vomit! The Jazz Apple Board's attempt at ~spicy branding~ does it no favors.

11. Gala

"The Void"
I felt nothing when I ate this apple. There's not much more to say about Gala apples except that everyone will probably eat one at some point in their life without even realizing what they've done.

10. Paulared

"Points for Cuteness"
Really, it's so cute and pink!! Any excitement is shattered when the waxy skin gives way to tender flesh. Ew, it's so soft. No. Bad. Ew.

9. Zestar!

"Clearly Genetically Modified"
A gibbous aberrant globoid with a dreaded trademarked exclamation point, but its placid, maybe even aloof, sweetness is worthy of a reaction of non-disgust.

cripps pink or pink lady apple
Cole Saladino & Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

8. Cripps Pink

"Textbook 'It's Fine'"
Also known as the Pink Lady, it's, like, completely tolerable. Would willingly purchase with my own money if left with few or no options. It's only good for the first three bites or so, but those three are very appley-tasting, with a 6-out-of-10 crunch!

7. Jonagold

"Basically Candy"
A lovely yellow-dominant brindled skin and elegant stature. But let's put it this way: Jonagolds are the equivalent of people so overwhelmingly bubbly and positive that you have to sub in your battery-powered personality just to stay afloat in conversation. It's nice at first -- energies mingling! Yay!! Smile till your face hurts!!! It's pleasant yet unsustainable. Everything in moderation, you know?

6. Fuji

"Inoffensive Yet Inconsistent"
好きです! These Japanese apples are generally mild and completely reasonable, but bad batches abound. I must insist that Fuji apples be secured via trusted sources to avoid great disappointment.

5. Honeycrisp

"Favored to Win"
To be completely transparent about The Process, Honeycrisps were my preconceived frontrunners. This was theirs to lose! They're stupidly expensive, but who cares! Their invention is responsible for saving Minnesota's economy, a story told to me in college that is almost certainly conflated, if not entirely false! Their moral fiber alone is worth the $4.39 a pound! They're simply so much better than all the other kinds of apples! It brings great shame upon my ego to report that I have held false opinions about Honeycrisp apples for years. The Mainstream Media gaslit me into believing that these were the best apples, when in fact they are only the fifth best. Open your eyes, sheeple!

granny smith apple
Cole Saladino & Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

4. Granny Smith

"Hell, Yeah"
Granny Smith apples rule because: 1) they're never mealy, always crisp; 2) their longevity is, like, insane (up to a year in certain conditions!!); 3) raw or baked, they're still delicious; 4) they're one of three apples that are pretty much always available; 5) apparently, they're the healthiest apple; and 6) "Granny" Smith was a real Australian lady named Maria Ann who dumped a bunch of crabapple cores out of her kitchen window and into her backyard, which grew into a tree that accidentally spawned her namesake apple. A very good apple indeed.

cortland apple
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

3. Cortland

"Son of New York"
Like Additional Son of New York Billy Joel's last-ever record of new music, River of Dreams, a surprising and underrated delight. The Cortland does not sustain a career on songs written 30-plus years ago, however. It seesaws between sweet and tart, but leans pretty hard into the tart.

macoun cartoon apple
Cole Saladino & Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

2. Macoun

"Do Not Overlook!!!"
A fruit of curious and whimsical traits! It's the perfect size for smaller-than-average hands to grasp when gnawing. Its blushing ruby color is struck with gashes of chartreuse. Slicing into one reveals a milky white inside that's dense and crisp and juicy, and which finds the washy center between acerbic and ambrosial. Its small window of availability, just two or three months in early fall, seems coquettish. Plus it's named after the guy who Frankensteined this variety into existence in the early 20th century. Downside: unclear if it's pronounced "ma-cown" or "ma-coon."

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

1. Braeburn

"Transcendental"
It just is.

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Leanne Butkovic is a features editor at Thrillist. Big Apple did not pay her to write this story. Don't @ her @leanbutk.