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Sunday, January 16, 2022

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The Cornell Apple Vending Machine – Ithaca, New York

Every year, at Cornell University, Autumn portends the return of the most unusual vending machine outside the Mann Library near the gardening department. Instead of the usual assortment of snacks, the popular combinations feature nine varieties of apples, all grown at two locations in Cornell Orchards.

For a modest dollar price, students can get a Gale Crisp, Shizuoka, Honey Crisp, Macintosh, or Ginger Gold party. However, the types of apples offered vary from month to month. In late August, the vending machine often displays delicious Sansa or SweeTango apples, while November offers varieties as diverse as Goldrush. Graduate students in horticulture are responsible for picking the fruit and keeping the machine full. All proceeds support the Horticultural Society (SoHo).

The vending machine, which has been a source of pride in the school for over a decade, is much more than a novelty. Cornell Orchards has been a breeding ground for important new apple varieties over the years, including Empire, Macoun, Rubyfrost, Snapdragon and Firecracker, all of which appear in the vending machine each fall. Sometimes, unnamed experimental varieties made cameos in the machine. Creating and marketing delicious apple varieties is big business these days – a staggering $10.5 million has been allocated to developing and promoting Cosmic Crisp, Honeycrisp competition in Washington state.

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