When and how did green grapes get so big and plump and tight?

Lately at the grocery store the green grapes have been remarkably big — with lengths about 1.5”, or about the same as the diameter of a ping pong ball; and they are plump, shaped similar to a watermelon (much smaller of course); and they are tight — with tight skin, and the inside “meat” is firm and perky.

I remember being a kid in the 1970s and my parents getting excited over Thompson seedless grapes, at 1 to 2 grams per. But today’s grapes are so much bigger, it’s like comparing Arnold Schwarzenegger to his “twin brother” Danny DeVito in the 1988 comedy movie Twins (gImages).

I searched this and found this NPR article, We Like 'Em Big And Juicy: How Our Table Grapes Got So Fat, that describes some techniques — girdling of the phloem while keeping the xylem unimpeded, a practice dating at least as far back as Aristotle‘s successor, Theophrastus, and mentioned by Shakespeare; and hormone therapy with gibberellic acid; and Autumn King grapes.

10 grams each! Is there anything else going on here besides what’s mentioned in that article? That article is dated Mar 2013 so it’s getting close to six years old. There might be newer techniques.

And what will they be like in another 50 years? The size of plums, maybe? A decent snack might consist of 1 or 2 grapes?

I guess the larger they are, the better they sell?

Well, the larger they are, the higher the percentage of inside fruit pulp to outside skin you have. And since the inside is the most desirable part, that’s a better ratio. (For eating. Wine grapes might want more skin & moisture.)

When I was a little kid I coveted the head-sized strawberries on Land of the Lost. Heck yeah, I’d buy a plum-sized grape!

Didn’t they used to be called “white grapes”?

The old request, “peel ma a grape”, is impossible with these new grapes!

My wife bought some (expensive!) giant grapes in Japan that I thought were small plums at first.

Not as expensive as these, though:

EDIT: The grapes my wife bought were probably kyoho grapes:

The article in my OP mentions the hormone Gibberellic acid, whose Wiki article says it was first identified in Japan in 1926 where they used it to make longer grains of rice.

It’s not a new phenomenon. When Ephriam Bull developed the concord grape, he entered it in an agricultural competition. The judges, not know what it was, classed it as a melon before Bull noticed and corrected them. They’d never seen grapes that large before.

This thread is surprisingly arousing.

I just bought some black grapes that are equally large. But they’re not quite as sweet as the smaller ones.

Girdling the phloem while keeping the xylem unimpeded is illegal in 27 states.

I think it’s mostly a combination of variety, time of year, and other treatments. This time of year, it’s the normal US harvest time, so it’s likely that we’re seeing the best ones on offer.

Those huge grapes are common, but so are the 3/4" long / 2/3" diameter ones (cheaper of course).

Source: have two grape-eating fiends as children.

If you can, try Midnight Beauties. They’re a black grape only available in late summer and they are disgustingly decadent. We can’t keep them in the house. My son and I will eat a bunch within an hour of them walking through the door. Absolutely delicious.

As for the OP, I’ve noticed the change as well, but couldn’t date it.

Wine grapes are far smaller than table grapes, and FAR sweeter.

Maybe. I gotta say, it seems to me that the bigger ones are less flavorful. And they definitely seem to have thicker, more annoying skins. But grapes have always been something I got a few times a year, so it’s possible a change in my tastes that led to me enjoying them less just happened to coincide with me noticing them getting larger.

Do they have seeds? Every dark grape I ever bit into had a -surprise- hidden in the middle.

And not, like, a fun surprise. These only concealed a hard, tooth-jarring surprise.

But your description makes them sound so tasty …

I’ve found that some of newer larger seedless grapes seem to be getting a pseudo-seed. They’re not fun to eat.

I’ve noticed those pseudo-seeds too. But to me they’re not too big a deal, they just disappear compared to the big grape when I’m eating it.

Am I the only one who finds that vaguely obscene? :smiley: