Monday, December 21, 2009

Grinch Post: When is a Honey Crisp not a Honey Crisp?

Recently, I exchanged emails with Leah Zeldes over at the Dining Chicago Blog. I happened to see that she had written about Crispin cider. In her post, she pointed out that Chicagoist had it wrong when they said their newest cider was from honey crisp apples.

You see, I have spent at least two Saturdays this fall standing near someone pouring samples of Crispin ciders at area liquor stores, and she was telling people that the cider was made from honeycrisp apples. So of course I wrote a comment on Leah's post saying that she was wrong and Chicagoist was right.

Turns out I was wrong and she was right, despite what the marketing rep I had spent time with had said (repeatedly) to consumers.

Is it just me, or does it seem disingenuous to label a cider "honey crisp" when it's not made with the uber-popular honeycrisp apple? At a minimum, it's capitalizing on the honeycrisp craze.

According to their marketing rep's comments on Leah's post, it is made with honey, and their name is Crispin, so hey, there's honey crisp. And they point to the distinction between the apple name "Honeycrisp" and their name "Honey Crisp." Reminds me a little of Clinton's "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is."

I do like the Crispin ciders quite a bit, and in fact have enjoyed several 4-packs over the last few months with friends and family. Right now, though, I like them a little less. And I don't get the whole pour it over ice thing, but hey that's me.


Leah A. Zeldes said...

It just goes to show that you have to take marketing with a grain of ... well, a shakerful of salt.

Chuck Cowdery said...

It's the sort of thing that gives marketing a bad name. That's not good marketing. It's stupid marketing and makes me wary of that producer.

~Sonja~ said...

Hi Chuck, I agree with you - it leaves me with a bad impression, that's for sure.

CiderJoe said...

Well Happy Holidays everyone. This is Joe Heron from Crispin.

Honestly at worst our name might be construed as a homage to the world's best dessert apple - the Honeycrisp.

But the truth is that on every label we say "...using a premium apple juice BLEND, not from concentrate,..". We have no disingenuous intent, we loved the combination of Honey with Crisp (which is why we are called Crispin).

Just for everyone's interest - we did actually try ferment apple wine using the Honeycrisp apple, unfortunately the apple's formidable delicious eating quality does not translate to great apple wine - too little acid and too much sugar makes for a "sour candy" tasting apple wine, anything but crisp.

Anyway thanks for the kind words about Crispin, albeit as you smacked us around a bit!

Stay well, be well, go well. Here's to 2010.

CiderJoe said...

PS: Thanks for letting us know that the sampler was incorrectly communicating that Honey Crisp was made from Honeycrisp apples, we will communicate with the team immediately. JOE

~Sonja~ said...

Thanks for the comments, Joe. I feel I must point out that the term "honey crisp" is more prominent on the label than anything about what goes into the cider, and the liquor stores where I have seen it only point out that it is "honeycrisp cider." So the misimpression is certainly not mine alone, and may have been actively communicated, at least here in Chicago.

CiderJoe said...

Sonja, it is Crispin Honey Crisp, like Crispin Brut or Crispin Original. We like the name for the reasons stated, and using honey in hard cider (not mead) is a truly unique style, a US style (so we can be proud of that at least).

Any way it's just cool that people are talking about cider, the forgotten American beverage, just in a nascent renaissance.

We have something very very cool coming out in the next few months. And although it's name is also a homage of sorts - it's not an apple!

Here's an interesting fact - Crispin is also an apple, the Mutsu. Thank goodness no one is killing us on that one, we had no idea there was an apple called the Crispin (or that there was an actual Saint Crispin).

Slow said...

Taking a look back at the label, I would think the drink was made from honey crisp apples. I appreciate Cider Joe's responses here, but it doesn't change that the marketing is misleading - intentional or not.

On a lighter not, ain't it great that the conversation is about the marketing? It used to be hard to find much in the way of quality beverages. Now almost all market segments are taken care of.

Tekstone said...

Hi Sonja & Happy New Year!

This thread reminds me of the controversy surrounding VeeV acai spirit/liqueur. their reps claim it is made with organic grains and fruits (even though it is NOT certified organic), but others in the industry say otherwise.

Do you (or does anyone else) know the truth?


~Sonja~ said...

Hi Tekstone,
Happy new year to you as well! I do not know much about how VeeV is made, so I can't respond. Given that, I forwarded your comment to one of the founders of VeeV - we'll see if he cares to clarify, and I'll ask our local rep as well. Cheers.

~Sonja~ said...

Hi again Tekstone. Here is the reply I received from Courtney Reum, one of the founders of Veev, which he sent to me by email this evening:

"Thanks for your inquiry Tekstone. As the founder of VeeV, we always try to be transparent with our loyal consumers. Things are changing every day on our end, but you are correct that we are not currently USDA certified organic. As such, I would hope that no one affiliated with VeeV would make the claim that we are officially certified but we do stand behind our product’s claim as the preeminent eco-friendly spirit in the industry, which is certainly up for debate but I would happily discuss with anyone. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly through Sonja, thanks"

If you'd like to correspond further, please reply here or send me an email and I'll put you in touch with Courtney.