I was minding my own business in the produce section when I came across an unassuming display of apples near the end of the aisle with a small sign that read UNNAMED TEST VARIETY APPLES (NON-GMO). They were on sale for $1.48 per pound. I did not hesitate. What were they testing? A new kind of pesticide? How mealy the flesh of an apple can be while still surviving shipment? A shine-enhancing fruit shellac? I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. I just grabbed a bag and started loading apples.

They were a delightful red with a few golden patches, a perfect size (not too small but not too large like those chonky Honeycrisps that look like they took a side trip to get BBLs before landing at the grocery store). A few of the apples were a bit asymmetrical, which I found to be a charming indicator that they might have actually touched a tree branch at some point in their life cycle.

The apples sliced well, with firm, crisp flesh. They were pornographically juicy and absolutely delicious. I smiled as soon as the first bite hit my lips. They had a sweet-tart flavor, just enough tartness to get the back-of-the-mouth saliva going, quickly giving way to sweet. My son loved them. Like many kids, he is very specific in the way he likes to eat his apples, which for him is exclusively in the form of wedges.

There’s probably a better way to do it, but I cut his apples such that we end up with four very large wedges and one slice. He never eats the slice. But with these apples, he even ate the slice. For the first time in nine years, he ate the slice, people. We went through our supply of Unnamed Test Variety Apples in two days, necessitating another trip to the grocery store.

If you haven’t figured out that these were good apples, then you should understand that my willingness to stop at the grocery store on the way home from picking up my son from school meant they were hella good. Adding an out-of-the-way errand onto the trip home from school on the streets of Seattle could add anywhere between fifteen minutes to an hour of travel time, depending on whether the drawbridges are up or down, how many individuals are tweaking/twerking in the middle of the street, and whether it’s rush hour (a.k.a. between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.). But I was willing to chance it for more of these apples.

Luckily, the grocery store was still fully stocked with Unnamed Test Variety Apples when we got there. As we were filling up our bag, a bystander walked by, read the sign aloud, and scoffed. I simply would not stand for anyone expressing skepticism at our new favorite apples, and I went into Beast Mode (a.k.a. Haranguing-a-Stranger-into-Buying-Mystery-Apples Mode).

“You have got to try these. They are so good. We were just here a couple of days ago, and we’re already back for more.”

The man succumbed almost too easily to my Beast Mode. He was already loading up a bag. “I’m trusting you,” he said.

“You won’t regret it.”

He started to walk away, but I wasn’t done.

“The taste is amazing, both sweet and tart. And they’re so juicy and crisp.”

He stopped and turned around, suddenly and rather suspiciously full of information. “Actually, I was here a few days ago, standing in the herb section for about ten minutes, and one of the employees told me that these apples are a combination of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp, naturally occurring.”

Okay, that was good info about the apples, but what was this man doing in the herb section for ten minutes? This grocery store was not a Super Walmart situation; it’s a local chain with co-op vibes. Which is to say, the herb section was like, maybe two by five feet of vertical real estate. Which is to say, one would have to be having an existential crisis in the herb section to spend ten minutes there. Also, there have been no naturally occurring apples in this country ever, I’m pretty sure. It takes something like twenty years at minimum to develop a new apple variety and get it to market. Clearly, this man’s information was suspect, but I chose to believe that the apples were a cross between Granny Smith and Honeycrisp, which are my son’s and my favorite apples, respectively. Decades ago, the Apple Gods had looked into our souls (in the case of my son, some time-traveling must have been involved) and blessed us by creating our perfect apple. The man began to walk away again, and I called after him, “That explains it!” He picked up the pace and disappeared somewhere near the lettuces.

The next time I went to the grocery store, the Unnamed Test Variety Apples display had been replaced with pineapples. As I forlornly pushed my cart onward, toward the potatoes, a girl about my son’s age dragged her father to the display. “They’re gone,” he said. They stared mournfully at the pineapples for a moment before turning away.

For the short time they were in our lives, I was obsessed with these apples. I raved about them to my coworkers, my therapist, and my friends who live across the country and had no access to the apples, with the fervor of someone trying to spread the Good News. I thought about how yummy they would be in a pie or crumble. I appreciated how well they fit in my hand. I was excited to have discovered something new and different that existed only in real life (I googled, and the apples were fully offline), and not just the illusion of something new and different presented to me by an algorithm. I don’t know what the Apple Gods were testing, but I want to let them know, they passed.