Why Caramel Apples Deserve To Be Cancelled

I firmly believe that going to a state fair is an idea that is always better in your head than in actuality. There's something about the ambiance of children screaming on roller coaster rides, waiting in long lines for beer that tastes like water and three drops of alcohol essence, and the smell of unidentified-fried-something wafting through the air that makes me a little queasy. But the most egregiously wrong thing about the fair isn't the rides, creepy carnival displays, or deep-fried double cheeseburgers. It's the caramel apples.

I'm talking about the sour and waxy apple, stuck with a heavy-duty plastic stick coated in a layer of thick caramel and rolled into toppings of chopped nuts and sprinkles. Although they're a favorite amongst audiences under the age of 12, these fall treats deserved to be dropped from the culinary lexicon altogether. Caramel apples, like the ambiance of a fare, is a concept that was well-intentioned in its creation but is always poorly executed.

The history of the caramel apple

The caramel apple, like other American culinary inventions, was first created as a way to make the most of what would have been wasted caramel Halloween candy. Kraft Foods employee Dan Walker was the first person to melt the leftover Halloween candies down and use them as a dip for whole apples. Although we often think of caramel apples as a food that small craft confectioners and candy shops make, much of the caramels we see on the market are automized. We can thank Vito Raimondi for this; he patented the first candy apple-making machine in 1960.

Since their invention, the caramel apple has made its way into candy shops, tourist destinations, and, of course, the state fair. The apples only really pop up during the fall season since it would be even more impractical to eat these apples dripping with caramel and schmeared with chocolate chips during the hottest times of the year.

The caramel apple is just wrong

So, what exactly is wrong with the caramel apple? I should start by saying I have nothing against apples, nor do I have anything against caramels. I, however, have an issue with the idea of combining a waxy, round fruit with another waxy, sickeningly sweet coating that never fails to get stuck in your teeth and all over your body. Unlike other apple desserts, there's no flavor complexity besides overwhelming sweetness. Plus, there is another aspect that often isn't acknowledged until your eyes have tricked your mouth, and all is too late. The sheer size of the apple will always make the coating ratio disproportionate. Simply put, you'll never get enough caramel in every bite, regardless of the angle you come at.

The other reason caramel apples are impractical is that you have to actually eat them with two hands: One on the stick and one in the caramel, holding everything in place. You can't eat them when holding anything else, which makes the pricey treat more chore than enjoyment. Moreover, the shape of the caramel apple makes eating it a rudimentary experience. After all, if I wanted to feel primitive at the state fair, I would eat one of those giant turkey legs with my bare hands.

Candy apples aren't much better

Caramel apples aren't the only confection that deserves to be nixed from the state fair menu. Just as you will never see me eating a caramel apple, you also won't see me chowing down on an abnormally tinted candy apple. This variation, which predated the invention of the caramel apple, is dipped in red cinnamon candy instead of creamy caramel. You'll also find the jelly apple, which is made with a softer, sugary cherry coating reminiscent of children's cough syrup.

If you've eaten a candy apple recently, you've probably noticed that the flavor of the coating doesn't resemble cinnamon or cherry. That's because the modern iteration of the candy apple has moved from flavored coatings to just sugar ones. It's just a mixture of corn syrup, water, sugar, and divisive red food coloring. Sure to pull your teeth out, this embellished version leads me to the question: What's wrong with eating normal apples?

There are other apple alternatives

While the caramel apple gets the spotlight, other apple treats get devalued. Instead of ordering your elaborately decorated caramel apple at a fall festival, experience the true bliss of a frozen apple cider slushie paired with a piping hot apple cider doughnut rolled in cinnamon sugar. Or, use your leftover bag of utility apples to make a warm apple crisp, dumplings, or classic apple pie to share with family and friends. These apple treats are ways to make the most out of the short apple season, and you can also skip the mess and eat them with a fork.

Although it might seem like all hope is lost for the caramel apple, some easy ways exist to make it more functional. Instead of going through the trials and tribulations of eating a whole one, if you've purchased one from the fair, you can save it for slicing into wedges at home. But if you plan to make your own apple from fresh fruit, just dip wedges into melted caramel instead. You'll get a much better ratio of apple to caramel — and you won't have to wear it on your face and fingers for the rest of the day.