Who is the “Granny Smith” of Granny Smith apples? Plus, learn the truth about Fuji apples

Many parts of the U.S. are enjoying the peak of apple season right now. And lucky for logophiles, the names of some of the most popular varieties are almost as interesting as the fruit is tasty.

There are more than 7, 500 cultivars of apples. Here are the stories behind five of the most popular:

• It’s understandable if you guess that the Golden Delicious was named for the fruit’s gorgeous hue. In fact, this cultivar was likely a hybrid of two types that share the name “golden,” the Grimes Golden and the Golden Reinette. The original tree was found on a family farm in West Virginia. The Golden Delicious went on the market in 1914 as a companion to the Red Delicious.

• The Red Rome, or Rome Beauty, has nothing to do with the seat of the ancient empire. This cooking apple actually originated near Rome Township, Ohio, in the early 1800s.

• The Fuji apple is also not named after the place you might expect. Mistakenly, many people think that it was named after Mount Fuji. But this apple clone was developed by growers at a research station in Fujisake, Aomori, Japan in the late 1930s.

• The tart Granny Smith green apple is in fact named after it’s propagator, Maria Ann Smith. The apple originated in Australia in 1868.

A fresh apple in the autumn always tastes better with a mug of coffee or a cup of tea. Learn the international mystery of the origin of coffee’s name, here, or check out what distinguishes green and black tea, here. Also, if you would like us to bite into the words behind any other fall foods, let us know. The suggestions that whet our linguistic appetite will get their own posts.


  1. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 19, 2013 - 6:07 am

    What about Royal Gala apples? I really like those. They, along with Golden Delicious, are my favorites, especially when perfectly ripe.
    Today I had snickerdoodle cookies with apple spice tea. Mmmm…

    I do that 2. With numbers, tho, not with letters. For me, 0 is white, 1 is light gray, 2 is pink, 3 is bright yellow, 4 is navy blue, 5 is red, 6 is dark orange, 7 is bright green, 8 is medium blue, and 9 is black. I also do that with the months. January is pale blue. February is pink. March, light yellow. April, green, May, bright yellow. June, light red. July, dark red. August, orangey yellow. September, gold. October, blue. November, brown. December, dark green. I thought I was the only 1 who did that. :-)

    “The Granny Smith apple is named after it’s propagator”? Really? I have never had trouble with its vs. it’s and I’m a 7th grader. I’ve always found that easy to remember. This is a dictionary for goodness’ sake. But then, u r only human.

  2. JN -  June 10, 2013 - 12:55 pm

    I may have a very little bit of this. it’s not very strong but certain numbers and letters have certain colors and some are stronger than others, for example when I think of the letter M it’s navy blue and I is very light blue. R is dark red almost like brown. B is aqua colored. The letter A is harder to see but it’s kind of very faintly red. Until I was about 10 I thought everyone saw letters and numbers this way.

  3. sgboswel -  December 27, 2010 - 9:43 pm

    “…after it’s propagator…”

    It’s (as in, IT IS), difficult to believe a linguistic website with its (as in, possessive) grammatical error!

  4. Linda -  December 27, 2010 - 4:24 pm

    Can this blog have been written by someone associated with dictionary.com? “The tart Granny Smith green apple is in fact named after it’s propagator,” OMG Please lose the apostrophe!!!!! ITS doesn’t need that little piece of punctuation.

  5. Minte -  December 27, 2010 - 3:43 pm

    You had a grammatical error–”The tart Granny Smith green apple is in fact named after it’s propagator, Maria Ann Smith.” The ‘it’s’ would be ‘its’ because it’s not a contraction.

    This was very interesting, though. I wonder about this sort of stuff. Thanks :)

  6. Greg -  December 27, 2010 - 2:55 pm

    This is totally off topic but why do they say “cut a check”? (Sorry if there has already been a post about this)

  7. APPLE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  December 27, 2010 - 1:47 pm

    [...] of good and evil — to Adam and Eve forbidden. — Metaphorically, psychologically, an Apple for the teacher not hidden. — “Take a Bite of the Apple” — Take [...]

  8. JD -  December 27, 2010 - 3:59 am

    Take one apple of choice, cut said apple in halve, then cut those two halves into two more halves. Now you have four(4)quarter halves of apples. Get a jar of caramel (NOT THE ICE CREAM TYPE) pour caramel into a bowl & use it for a dip with the apples. It’s a FAST good treat/snack.

  9. Felicity Hunter -  December 14, 2010 - 7:14 pm

    Fuji are the #1 bestest apples in the world!

    Funny I’m just now figureing out that *Fuji* and *fiji* are 2 different places :.

  10. Lefty -  November 17, 2010 - 2:26 pm

    I vote for HoneyCrips Apples they are the best!! Next Favorite has to be Gala.. Fuji are not bad either..

  11. G-bee -  November 10, 2010 - 9:13 am

    I hate fruit. But I love all of this random knowledge:)

  12. Aoikitty -  November 9, 2010 - 7:30 pm

    I find that i like macintosh apples. They are light and refreshing. and Malc, i agree with you. i find that i like to eat fresh apples while reading in a tree with a big bottle of cold sparkling apple cider…

  13. Shelby -  November 9, 2010 - 4:14 pm

    I’ve always wondered about FRUITCAKE… What does it have to do with the holidays? Who experimented enough to come up with it?

  14. Malc -  November 9, 2010 - 12:35 pm

    I reacted to reading drinking coffee/tea while eating an apple. This is not a good combination for me!

  15. Apple Head -  November 9, 2010 - 10:21 am

    I’m with you David.I get all worked up & expectant only to be disappointed. But just as Teresa said, Go Gala. As long as it’s in season, they never disappoint. I want to try some others & I even ventured to try a Fuji & I thought I was going to break my teeth (plural)! It was too crisp & crunchy. I have to figure out what kind I had that my co worker brought one day. They were the biggest apples I had ever seen & they were sweet and juicy!!! Wish I had kept in better touch with him.

  16. Kirstin -  November 9, 2010 - 10:18 am

    What about exploring phrases of an agricultural origin, whose meaning has been forgotten or altered in our non-agrarian culture? Example: “nip it in the bud.” I was interested in my 16-year-old son’s surety that the phrase is actually “nip it in the butt.” He “corrected” my usage and insisted that EVERYONE knows this. The meaning of the first is “to put a stop to it before it starts putting out new growth.” The new meaning is more like “to put a stop to it with a sharp disciplinary measure,” rather like the kind a dog with some vestigial cattle-herding instincts might make.

  17. Isabella -  November 9, 2010 - 10:01 am

    Years ago, I used to buy from my local greengrocer in the North of England apples called Oregons. They were delicious. I have never tasted better before or since. Where are they now?

  18. pam g -  November 9, 2010 - 7:11 am


    succotash is a mix of corn and lima beans. people do still eat it. I just get a bag of frozen sweet corn and a bag of limas and cook them together, put some butter and salt on it, and eat it up. Corn and beans=a complete protein.

  19. Teresa -  November 9, 2010 - 6:57 am

    My favorite apple is the Gala! It’s sweet & juicy!! The Red Delicious always seems a bit dry!! Go Gala!

  20. GrammarNazi -  November 9, 2010 - 6:54 am

    Bonnie, the good news is you’re not the person you think you are since someone already pointed that error out. You’re actually “that” person that doesn’t read comments before commenting.

  21. kooljerk -  November 9, 2010 - 6:25 am

    Bonnie is right. The punctuational apple stem in my eye right now is

    Quote and dialect inside of a quote: Granny said,”Husband John exclaimed to me,’These are the apples people will forever be eatin’.'” Looks weird as a botched botox job on a habitual sausage-tester.

  22. Wrasfish -  November 9, 2010 - 6:24 am

    How about succotash? Do people still eat it? Well, I don’t. Lima beans taste just like a mouth full of wet sand. When you make succotash, the “flavor” of the lima beans pervades the rest of the perfectly good veggies, making them all taste like wet sand.

    American cheese isn’t cheese at all. It’s a petroleum byproduct.

    A few years ago, researchers strove to find a dish that originated in Columbus Ohio. The result? Nope, not chocolate buckeyes; they come from Indiana somewhere. The uniquely Columbus dish is war su gai.

  23. louis paiz -  November 9, 2010 - 6:24 am

    well it seems that we continue to be americans as apple pie . thanks

  24. David -  November 9, 2010 - 5:52 am

    Love a good apple… but I don’t trust them… I can never tell if it’s going to be a good one or not, until I bite into it – by then it’s too late. I find myself avoiding them for that fact – Bananas are far more honest – Green – not ripe yet, yellow and speckled – just right, black – too late!

  25. AriesSpirit -  November 9, 2010 - 3:43 am

    I nod my head at both CLARE (with the Pete thingie) and Bonnie (with the apostrophe thingie) – high five, girls!

  26. Cuong -  November 8, 2010 - 10:52 pm

    Yummm, Granny Smith apples..=).

  27. Nazar Klishta -  November 8, 2010 - 8:39 pm

    with a sike at the end!!!

  28. Ferret -  November 8, 2010 - 8:20 pm

    lolpally: Do you mean the fact that they’re yellow? That’s a genetic trait in apples.

  29. Ferret -  November 8, 2010 - 8:18 pm

    Clare: Some speculate that people could be swearing by St. Peter when they say, “For Pete’s sake!” There are some other theories out there as well, but they escape me at the moment.

  30. Robert -  November 8, 2010 - 8:06 pm

    @ Clare: I presume ‘Pete’ is St Peter

  31. pedro -  November 8, 2010 - 7:23 pm

    what hannin’ i think apples are soooo dope!

  32. Bonnie -  November 8, 2010 - 5:30 pm

    I hate to be that person, but there’s a misplaced apostrophe. . .

    “The tart Granny Smith green apple is in fact named after it’s propagator, Maria Ann Smith.”

  33. aj -  November 8, 2010 - 3:46 pm

    i love granny smith apples i hate red apples exept for micigan apples

  34. Gagsd -  November 8, 2010 - 2:49 pm

    Cool i hate apples at night i kill 200 apples.

  35. sherryyu -  November 8, 2010 - 2:10 pm

    col i never learned that

  36. lolpally -  November 8, 2010 - 1:37 pm

    Whats the deal with them yellow apples?

  37. Dave -  November 8, 2010 - 1:35 pm

    “Here are the stories behind five of the most popular”

    I only count four in the article. What am I missing? Or more importantly, what are YOU missing?

  38. Saf -  November 8, 2010 - 12:50 pm

    Also, @Valérie

    Nearly all of the orchard fruits you’re accustomed to are sterile, and have been manually reproduced via cutting and grafting since about 1820. It’s nothing new.

    In fact, all Navel oranges are clones of only *one* tree that produced that specific (seedless) mutation back in 1810. Same with Cavendish bananas (the big yellow ones that everyone is used to), although I’m not sure about the date on that one.


  39. [...] Of Apple Pie Yet? I am, but here's some info. on the apple. Who is the Granny Smith of Granny Smith apples? | The Hot Word I know the Mackintosh | Define Mackintosh at Dictionary.com is an apple too, but I don't see the [...]

  40. Saf -  November 8, 2010 - 12:43 pm

    @ Mark V.

    German Chocolate Cake is a good example of that. Neither the recipe nor the chocolate used are from Germany (“German’s” was the brand name of the dark baking chocolate that the original recipe called for).

    Unfortunately, “American Cheese” is distinctly American… although I still haven’t figured out why we’d want to take credit for it. Blech.


  41. Hydi -  November 8, 2010 - 12:25 pm

    What about pumpkins?

  42. renee -  November 8, 2010 - 11:57 am

    thnks.. i didnt knew abt it..!

  43. Valérie -  November 8, 2010 - 11:40 am

    What do you mean, a clone of an apple?

    Does that mean it is a Frankenfood?

    Oh no! I love their flavour.


  44. G. Pappin -  November 8, 2010 - 11:21 am

    There is an error in this article. In this sentence: “The tart Granny Smith green apple is in fact named after it’s propagator, Maria Ann Smith”….the word “it’s” should be spelled “its” since it is a possessive pronoun, not a contraction for “it is.”

  45. mark v -  November 8, 2010 - 11:08 am

    What about other foods named after locations they arent actually from?
    IE: french fries, danish’s
    other things im not sure about, Crullers, Boston Cream donuts and the two clam chowders?

  46. Clare -  November 8, 2010 - 11:02 am

    Who is the Pete when people say, “For Pete’s sake!” And what did he do? I’ve always wondered more about that than about Granny Smith.

  47. Nathan Hunter -  November 8, 2010 - 11:01 am

    I love apples, excpet for any delicious apples. Yuck. There are some other apples I don’t know though. How about pink ladies or Honeycrisp(?)?

  48. Orange Hollow -  November 8, 2010 - 10:42 am

    The town in Aomori prefecture is called Fujisaki (藤崎), not FujisakE.

  49. Suzanna F. -  November 8, 2010 - 10:42 am

    Cornucopia or the Horn of Plenty – Why is is often associated with Thanksgiving and harvests?

  50. Saf -  November 8, 2010 - 10:35 am

    How about succotash? I’d hazard a guess at a Native American origin, but it’s still an odd word. I’ve always associated it with Autumn and Thanksgiving, but I have no idea why (I don’t even remember where I first heard of it — I definitely already knew what it was before I ever heard “Thufferin’ thuccotash”).

    Do people still eat it?

  51. Cyberquill -  November 8, 2010 - 10:34 am

    A fresh apple in the autumn always tastes better with a mug of coffee or a cup of tea.

    Link-infested as these posts always are, would it have hurt to add a link to at least one scientific study that supports this remarkable claim?


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