Why put stickers on apples?

Seems like this started abot 10 or 15 yrs ago. All of sudden, supermarket apples all had little stickers on them. What the hell is this for? I sure would like to just grab an apple and eat it w/o having to peal off a sticker and wonder what kind of risidue is left behind.

Where’s Meryl Streep when you REALLY need her? Remember the apple scare several years ago-- was it ALAR…?


Note that the stickers typically have both the apple type and a number. The number is what the checker codes in to get the produce type. The number may vary from store to store.

The main benefit seems to be that it helps checkout clerks who don’t know a pippin from a granny smith. As automated inventory systems became more pervasive, correctly tracking produce became more important than just trying to remember the price per pound.

A side benefit is that it helps get your snacks past the veggie police. Several states (e.g. California? Arizona?) have border checks for produce. I’ve been waved over to a border stop on IH10 at 2am and asked if I had any contraband veggies. They would have confiscated my apples in the war against the medfly if they hadn’t had stickers verifying that they’d made it halfway around the world already. If they’d been local produce, they’d have been DPS breakfast food and I’d have been cruising LA jonesing for a core.

Try as they might, they just haven’t been able to make an apple grow with a UPC label on its skin.

Not sure any of these ideas are going to make me feel any better the next time I find myself chewing on one of those labels because I neglected to peel it off…

RSS (Reduced Size Symbology) is on the way, and that little sticker with the PLU (Product Look Up) Number will indeed have a barcode soon.

PLU Apple, Granny Smith, Large, West = 4017
PLU Apple, Pippin, Large = 4162