She Drives A Thousand Miles For SweeTango
SweeTango apples have attracted plenty of devotees since they first hit store shelves a few years ago.
Apple lovers praise the flavor, texture and juiciness of SweeTango, which was developed at the University of Minnesota from the popular Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties. Fans eagerly await each fall’s harvest and pounce when SweeTangos show up in their local stores.
Then there’s Char Nicholson. Most of the time, she’s a regular person. She works as a nurse in Ann Arbor, Mich. She dotes on her husband and her college-age daughter.
When fall rolls around, however, Nicholson becomes a SweeTango fanatic. For the past three years, she’s trekked from Michigan to Pepin Heights Orchards in Lake City, Minn., to stock up on SweeTango apples. It’s a round trip of more than 1,000 miles.
Her first trip in 2009 was something of a blind date. She’d read about SweeTango, but because the new variety was in extremely limited supply, she couldn’t find them near her home and had never tried one.
So she decided to set out for Pepin Heights Orchards, which is leading Next Big Thing, cooperative with exclusive rights to grow and market SweeTango.
“I told my husband that we were going to Pepin Heights no matter what,” Nicholson said. “They had samples there and once I tried them I fell in love with them. They’re just fabulous. They’re crispy and crunchy and just so juicy when you bite into them.”
She’s been back every year since, calling her annual trip to Lake City her “pilgrimage.”
“I know it’s kind of crazy to be this excited about an apple, but I just love SweeTango,” Nicholson said.
This year, she made the trip in early September — and returned with two cases of SweeTango. Each box has about 100 apples. Nicholson said she’ll share some with her sister and stretch out her supply as long as she can.
Nicholson said she also plans to extoll the virtues of SweeTango every chance she gets.
“As a nurse, I do work with kids obesity … and we hope to get them to reach for an apple over a candy bar or bag of chips or whatever. That would be phenomenal for everybody.”