WASHINGTON, Mo. — Fall is officially here!
When you think about the cooling temperatures and leaves changing colors you might also envision a freshly dipped caramel apple. The favorite fall treat keeps one local company especially busy this time of year.
The Franklin County company that's been in the apple business for more than 50 years said the demand just keeps growing – literally. Happy Apples needs more apples grown every year just to keep their product stocked on store shelves.
“Last year we did around 9-10 million caramel apples in 15 weeks. We are on pace to smash that this year,” Happy Apples spokesperson Brett Wengert told 5 On Your Side.
The traditional caramel and peanut-dipped apples fly off shelves, but this year the local company whipped up something different.
It's sweet, spicy, unique and unexpected: a Red Hot Riplets caramel apple.
"Caramel-master Dave" who spends his days whipping up desserts in Washington, Missouri, described the new flavor as “the ultimate St. Louis Sweet-Heat, treat. ”
The caramel apple dipped and rolled in Old Vienna’s Red Hot Riplets dusted peanuts started out at their factory in Union, Missouri.
“Some of us were fighting over the last bag of Red Hot Riplets in the vending machine downstairs. So the production manager and I decided to split the bag. After we finished in the breakroom, we thought about rolling some chips on an apple as a joke,” Wengert said.
Next, he drove to the grocery store, bought a bag of chips and started rolling apples.
“There was instant synergy because of the sweet and savory aspect of the apples and chips together,” he explained.
Perfecting the caramel apple recipe took nearly a month of trial and error.
"We kept working on it and rolling them in the chips, but it didn’t work because after 4-5 days the chips went stale. We requested that Old Vienna send us some Red Hot Riplet seasoning for us to play around with," Wengert said.
"We expected Old Vienna would send us a couple of pounds of seasoning, but they sent us a 25-pound bag," he said laughing.
The final product ended up being an apple dipped in caramel sauce and rolled in peanuts that are dusted with Red Hot Riplets seasoning.
The Happy Apples are grown here in Missouri on a large orchard in Marthasville. Approximately 180 acres of apples are harvested every fall. Peters Orchards in Waverly, Missouri, also supplies apples for the fall favorite.
Happy Apples said its goal is to make about 10,000 “Red Hot Riplets Apples.”
The limited-edition apples will be available at all St. Louis area Schnucks locations beginning Friday, Sep 24.
“Schnucks will carry this product through October and possibly even into November. We couldn’t think of three more iconic St. Louis companies to team up for this project,” Wengert told 5 On Your Side.
For more information about the third generation, mom and pop operation Happy Apples website.