This is my 11-year-old son Andrew:

On his birthday, he enjoys cake. But every day of the year, he love-love-looooves apples. We’re talking a 3-4 apple a day habit. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, this kid is going to top Methuselah’s record. He loves apples so much that we call him “Applehead Andrew.”

Andrew loves apples, and apples are fruit, and fruit is healthy… so what’s the problem? Well, Andrew’s favorite variety of apples is the Honeycrisp. Sure they’re super-sweet and oh-so-juicy… in fact they’re so addictive that I sometimes call them Honeycrack. But it seems like the darn things cost more per pound than caviar.

Sticker shock!

If you’re lucky, you can find ’em on sale for $1.99 a pound. When we see that, we fill our basement fridge with reinforcements… which Andrew quickly demolishes. But usually they’re in the $2.49-$3.49 a pound range. Nearly four times the going rate for most varieties. Why? Well, for starters, Honeycrisps were developed 20 years ago by David Bedford at the University of Minnesota, which still has a patent on them, so growers have to pay $1 per tree back to the university. Honeycrisps also are finicky about climate so they can’t be grown all over, and they’re much more labor intensive (the apples grow so large that the trees require a trellis system, the fruit on a single tree doesn’t all ripen at the same time, they’re more susceptible to diseases so they need more sprayings, and they bruise more easily so they need more TLC in handling/packing). It all adds up to a hefty price tag for these fancy pommes.

I guess we’ll have to suck it up and take out a second mortgage on our house so Applehead Andrew can keep on crunching. I suppose there are a lot worse “Honey” products that he could be bingeing on:


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And Andrew’s obsession always reminds me of this fantastic duet about “champagne tastes on beer budget” from the brilliant John Prine and the incandescent Iris Dement: