John Cripps’ Pink Lady® Legacy

We have apple breeder John Cripps to thank for the Pink Lady® apples beloved by people across the world. After his recent passing, tributes have been pouring in to acknowledge the important mark he made in apple history. Here are a few notable articles and excerpts that deepened our appreciation for the lasting legacy of John Cripps.

Our Pink Lady® partners in the United Kingdom, posted this article:

John Cripps’ work bringing the Pink Lady® apple to consumers across the globe was a culmination of 25 years of research which led him to have the ingenious idea to cross a Golden Delicious and a Lady Williams, creating the delicious Cripps Pink variety. Over time, other varieties, all related to the original Cripps Pink, have been licensed under the Pink Lady® brand, but only the very best apples from these varieties are selected, hand-picked and given the heart-shaped Pink Lady® seal of approval.

Cripps, a British-Australian horticulturalist, was formally recognised for his work in 2010 when inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia for his influence on Australia’s apple industry. 

Cripps was also named an officer in the Order of Australia in 2015 for his “distinguished service to primary industry through internationally renowned, innovative contributions to the agriculture and food sectors, and to the community.”

Cripps has been described by those that knew him as a calm and quiet gentleman, but one who was passionate and dedicated to the art of plant breeding. Cripps’ daughter, Dr Helen Cripps, shared that the family was proud of his contribution to horticulture and to the apple industry, both in Australia and internationally. “He was looking for a particular taste, he was looking for the red color, the sweetness, the crispness”. Cripps’ legacy lives on as the Pink Lady® apple variety has become internationally recognised since its release in 1991, listed in the top 100 greatest Australian inventions, and remains one of the best-loved apples worldwide.

John’s daughter Helen pointed to the dedication her father demonstrated when developing Pink Lady® brand apples in an interview with ABC Radio.

“It took 25 years of research to develop the apple genetics of the Pink Lady® to the point it’s at today,” Helen explained. “We are so proud that he’s left a legacy. He tasted so many apples he used to get stomach complaints, because he used to have to do the tastings.”

Dr Cripps also detailed the lengths her father went to in order to create the brand’s eventual taste and ability to be eaten all year round.

“It’s not just about crossing and getting a single apple, it’s about having to take the seeds, create seedlings and get the trees to grow to a certain size,” she said.

We also learned more about how John came to the Pink Lady® name from a colleague, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s New Varietal Expert, Buks Nel, in this article from Farmers Review Africa.

According to Nel, Cripps took the Pink Lady® trade name from his favourite novel, Nicholas Monserrat’s The Cruel Sea”, where the hero sips on a Pink Lady cocktail. As John said, “It’s a fitting name for an apple with such a beautiful blush!”

From the flavor and color to the name itself, John Cripps’ legacy will live on for generations to come with Pink Lady® apples.

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