On a trip to the Northwest to cover the upcoming cherry season, I just checked into the Holiday Inn Express at Sea-Tac Airport this afternoon. After watching TV in the lounge for a couple of minutes, I noticed a ceramic bowl filled with bi-colored apples sitting there, invitingly.

I picked one and took it to my room and soon savored every bite of the sweet gala - that's what they wanted, isn't it? The fruit wasn't just sitting there to look at, am I right?

In any case, I tallied goodwill points to the account of Holiday Inn Express and wondered if the front desk would object if I picked up a second apple this evening.

Apples have a special connection to consumers. Most everyone buys apples, and we all have our preferences. Even if we are maddeningly opinion-less on most fresh produce items, nearly all of us have something to say about apples.

That's why I asked our Gen X mom Sarah Krause to ask her friends about their apple buying experiences and variety preference .

Here is the first part of Sarah's report, with another reference to the ubiquitous fruit bowl.

By Sarah Krause

Apples are healthy, portable, easy, have lots of varieties to choose from and have great shelf life. There are no peels to deal with, they won’t get smashed in your grocery bag and, best of all, apples are crowd pleasers.

Apples are the produce staple in our house. We always have them on hand. Some are in the fruit bowl ("kid" kind and "grown-up" kind) and the rest wait in the fridge to refill.

The adults like the granny smith, which the kids say are too sour. They prefer yellow delicious and most any other red kind. I usually switch it up and often buy what’s on sale. I buy about six to ten apples each week. Hubby Alan takes an apple for breakfast almost every morning. The kids have them sliced for breakfast (sometimes with peanut butter), in their lunches or as an after-school snack. They are easy to slice up and have next to you while doing homework! I like the little individual packages of apples for lunches – we like to buy the “caramel-infused” ones for something fun and different.

One thing I’ve been searching for recently is a"Grapple," and so I was excited to find the Grapple 4-pack at Hen House, which I was told had only been in the store for five days. The clamshell was $4 but no price would deter me from finally trying the elusive Grapple. Because I was so enthused, I got my three kids psyched about the tasting the apple.

That afternoon, we sliced one up and sampled it -- very subtle grape flavor but still juicy and sweet. Of course the kids wanted more grape flavor. I wanted to know more, so I checked the Grapple site (www.grapplefruits.com ) and watched the video. I found out that gala or fuji apples are used because their skin is permeable and take on the grape flavor in a special bath. Pretty interesting. The next day, my boys each took a Grapple for their school snack and proudly showed it off to their classmates and teachers, who were intrigued.

I was at my favorite local Hy-Vee the other day and asked one of the produce guys, Harold, which variety is a top seller. He emphatically said honeycrisp fly out the door when in season, but said whatever apple happens to be on sale also proves popular (that week, braeburn, for 99 cents/pound). “Overall, galas sell the best because they’re sweetest.”

You can reach Sarah at: sarah_a_krause@yahoo.com

TK: There is much more to come from Sarah and friends about apples in future Fresh Talk columns. Stay tuned. One thing I must say about Sarah, who by the way once worked with me at The Packer back in 1993, is that I admire her sense of adventure. Look no further than the reference to the caramel-infused apples and her quest for The Grapple. More coming on apples from Gen-X moms Julie, Shannon, Courtney, Beth, Karen, Christy, Annie, Chris and Joei.