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Iowa History Daily: January 17 - Jesse Hiatt's 'Red Delicious"

Iowa History Daily: On January 17, 1898, Jesse Hiatt,  the man responsible for the Red Delicious Apple, passed away. One of the most popular apple varieties of all time, the roots of Red Delicious represent a story harkening back to the earliest years of Iowa agriculture.

During 1856, Hiatt arrived in rural Madison County and decided to start an apple orchard. Planting traditional varieties proven to succeed in the Midwest, Hiatt eventually noticed a stubborn sapling sprouting between his beautifully aligned rows of trees. Hiatt tried his best to root out the invader, but he eventually gave up and let the rouge sprout reach skyward. 

The tree eventually started to bear fruit, and the resulting apples proved shapely and flavorful. Using the seeds to plant more of the hearty and delicious red apples, Hiatt dubbed the strain Hawkeye in honor of his new state. Hiatt’s apples proved so tasty he decided to enter the produce in a national apple contest during 1893. After winning first place, the eager Iowan sold the marketing rights for the new-strain of apples to the Stark Brothers Nursery across the state-line in Missouri. 

The Starks started to advertise the apples under a new moniker “Red Delicious,” and sunk a great deal of time and treasure into marketing the new apple. Taking their new product to the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904, the “Red Delicious” apple grew to national fame. For decades tourists came to see the far-famed Red Delicious mother tree on Hiatt’s farm until the disastrous Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940 struck down the historic tree. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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