Apple bobbing; a fun and messy game synonymous with Halloween has a much more romantic origin that you’d imagine!
Dating back to Roman times, it was believed that the shape the seeds formed when slicing an apple in half was able to determine a successful marriage. It was from this belief that the apple bobbing tradition was born. Apple bobbing took place once a year when young unmarried people tried to bite into an apple floating in water, the first person to bite into the apple would be the next one allowed to be married.
Legend has it that girls who placed the apple they bobbed under their pillow would dream of their future lovers!
Apple bobbing no longer determines people’s futures, so there’s a lot less pressure, but there’s still lots of competition! However have you ever given any thought to which apple is the best for bobbing?
Students at The Co-operative Academy in Leeds took on the challenge to find out. They compared characteristics considered core to bobbing performance on Cox’s Orange Pippin, Spartan and Royal Gala apples.
Characteristic 1 –Buoyancy
Students measured how high above the water line the apple sat compared to its overall height. The idea being that the more of an apple that lies above the water the easier it is to get a hold of it.
Characteristic 2 – Texture
Students wanted to test how easy it is to pierce the skin of each apple. For this they placed masses on top of an apple resting on nail then slowly added more mass until the skin of the apple was pierced.
Characteristic 3 – Stability
A steady apple is an easier apple to bite, so to test the stability apples were pushed to the bottom of a beaker and then released. Students then timed how long it took the apple to settle on the surface of the water.
Characteristic 4 – Taste
A blind taste test was carried out by 1500 student – the idea being someone is much more likely to chase an apple they enjoy eating!
The Winning Apple
Spartan was crowned the “Best For Bobbing” thanks to its fantastic buoyancy, skin that’s easy to pierce and great taste.
Introduced into the UK in the mid-1930s, the Spartan apple has a sweet flavour that makes it a popular choice as a cooking or dessert apple. You will find them in your local store with a “best for bobbing” sticker displayed on them.