Want confirmation that scientists have totally flipped the tables on fruit-flavored candy? Find a bag of Cotton Candy grapes — a new variety of candy-flavored fruit.
These green, slightly amber grapes literally taste just like a cloud of freshly-spun cotton candy from a state fair. They're an early variety, appearing in stores from early August through late September. And even though the name and taste might suggest there's some genetic modifying involved, there isn't.
They also aren't soaked, like the Grāpple, a trademarked name for Fuji or Gala apples that have been dunked in a grape-flavored solution.
Jack Pandol, one of the owners in Grapery, the company that produces the grape, studied viticulture (that's the science of cultivating grapes) at the University of California, Davis. Pandol also founded International Fruit Genetics, a company that uses traditional breeding methods like cross-pollination to create new varieties of grapes and cherries.
That's exactly how they create the Cotton Candy grape: by crossing two other grape species, a Concord-like grape and a variety of Vitis vinifera, a common grape. That left them with a new grape — the Cotton Candy grape — that's lower in acid and higher in sugar than most others; the sugar content measures 20 brix (the measurement of the sugar content of grapes) before they are harvested to make sure their flavor and sweetness lives up to their name. (By comparison, traditional grapes measure 17 to 19 brix.)
So do Cotton Candy grapes live up to the hype? Some describe the flavor as being like vanilla or caramel, which, combined with the amount of sugar and low acid, makes the grape taste like pretty much just like cotton candy.
The hybrid grape is licensed to only a few growers worldwide; growing them in other countries where the climate allows an extended season makes them available a little bit longer than six weeks a year. And, if you still haven't satisfied your sweet tooth once the Cotton Candy grapes are gone for the season, Grapery has a few other grape hybrids, including one called Gum Drops — a round, purple grape that tastes just like ... well, you know.