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You Never Used to Have to Open an Apple

     Never used to have to open an apple. Somewhere along the line, that changed. It took me five minutes to open my apple today, using my organically-grown fingernails and a whole lot of inorganic under-the-breath commentary.

     It isn’t that the apple came in shrink-wrapped plastic or on one of those pieces of cardboard with the plastic bubble on top. It’s that the apple came with a sticker firmly affixed to its skin. The skin I love to eat. But not with paper on it.

     Unless you’re fond of the taste of paper with glue on its underside, you have to peel that label off before you can bite into the apple – or pear, or peach. ’Course if you’re one of those who cuts up your fruit and eats it in tidy little pieces, you can just throw away the chunk with the paper on it.

     After my battle getting the label off, I started wondering if maybe it was edible after all, and I could have just eaten it. They make lots of inedible things edible these days and it would be logical to make the sticker on a piece of fruit edible. But then, most of the inedible things they make edible aren’t logically edible – like those chocolate - um, things I won’t mention.

     Today’s sticker was super stubborn. Usually it only takes me two or three minutes of skilful maneuvering to remove those pesky labels. Today all my attempts to dislodge it failed miserably. But I kept trying.

     I observed it from every angle, like a golfer surveying the manicured slopes surrounding the eighteenth hole. When I spied a miniscule gap between the sticker and the apple skin, I came unglued! No, it came unglued! No, actually I sneaked up on it and slid the tip of my finger into the tiny gap. My finger slipped on the shiny surface of the apple. I approached it once more. Aha! Got it! I charged into that gap with vigor and vim and tore the tiny label right off that apple! Got a little skin with it, too.

     I tossed the label into the nearest trash can. That doesn’t work. Darn thing sticks to your finger. Finally I transferred it from my finger to the trash can liner. But then I got curious.

     What is this label all about? Do they put one on every single piece of fruit? How come? I pulled the label off the trash can liner, smoothed it out and stuck it to a memo pad. Then I read the tiny print, “Royal Gala Sweet #4173.” They count them? I wonder who ate #4172?

     This was the last of the Royal Gala apples at our house, so I couldn’t look for #4172, nor for #4174, nor any other number. Luckily, there were more apples of a different species in the refrigerator and two were of the same breed. I examined their labels.

     The words “Responsible Choice” sat quite close to a miniature drawing of a sweet little ladybug. Bright red. But not alive, thank goodness. Do ladybugs like apples? Further down on the label, running across a couple of blue mountain peaks were the words, “Stemilt Golden Delicious.” And below the mountain, the number #4021. Ah! Would the other apple be #4022? #4020?

     Nope - both apples had the same number, so it must be the number is code for the species of apple, or maybe it’s the “Packed by employee number” number.  I put the two apples back and went off to enjoy my Royal Gala Sweet #4173 - without the sticker.

     I’m sure it won’t be long before someone will come up with a handy gadget for removing those stickers, but in the meanwhile, I wish they would make them edible – caramel flavored for apples, whipped cream for peaches… It would sure beat breaking your fingernails, trying to open an apple. 

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