Why Witch Finger Grapes Now Go By A Sweeter Name

Food plays a role in most holidays, but for many, spookiness is only a factor come Halloween. For instance, there's a classic Spooktober game where an adult puts something like peeled grapes in a box and has children reach inside. Then, the grown-up tells the kids those are actually eyeballs they're feeling (via The Spruce). If only you could add witches' fingers to the mix! Unfortunately, the Witch Finger variety of grapes is only available from mid to late summer, per Eat Like No One Else.

It's a shame, because trick-or-treaters would love them. Since Witch Fingers are harvested when they're most ripe, they're particularly sweet, even though this shortens their shelf life, according to Bon Appétit. Their taste is similar to a red grape or plum, and Luv 2 Garden explains that this goes nicely with bitter, salty, and sour flavors. Witch Fingers also give you a satisfying crunch when you bite into them, due to their low skin-to-flesh ratio.

There are different sub-types of this strain, but the main variety (which gives them their name) is dark and elongated, resembling a stereotypical crone's digits. One look through their slightly see-through skin will tell you these grapes are seedless, too. They can be found in some specialty stores, but not often; they're hard to cultivate, making them rare. Plus, as Gardening Know How notes, there's only one commercial grower of Witch Fingers. Besides, if you do find them, you won't even see them labeled as Witch Finger grapes anymore.

The name grossed people out

It all comes down to marketing. According to Minneopa Orchards, this isn't even the first time that these grapes have undergone a name change. During the early '00s, Grapery, a Californian grower, teamed up with International Fruit Genetics to crossbreed new types of grapes into existence. Since one variety looked a lot like peppers, they were dubbed Chile Pepper grapes. Sadly, customers were afraid this name meant they were spicy and largely avoided the product. It wasn't until the early '10s that the Witch Finger title made its debut, but that moniker only stuck around for a few years. Cooking on the Weekends noted Sweet Sapphire Grapes as an alternative name back in 2013, which sounds pretty enticing, but this seems to have been unofficial at best.

Nowadays, Witch Finger grapes go by the less creepy name: Tear Drop grapes. This change occurred because, as Grapery's CEO and co-owner Jim Beagle told Bon Appétit, "We started to get more and more subtle complaints about it." Apparently, people were "so grossed out by the word 'fingers' in their food that they refused to even sample the grapes," Beagle recalled. It seems consumers don't enjoy the idea of hags and body parts. Still, if you can get past all the name silliness, then consider using Tear Drop grapes in charcuterie boards, fruit salads, or jams next summer. You won't end up cursed by a witch... probably.