By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
It’s West Virginia’s official state fruit.
But the golden delicious apple also serves as another slice of the state’s history.
The apple variety was discovered by Anderson Mullins in Clay County in 1905 on the family’s farm. Terri Allen, president of the Clay County Golden Delicious Apple Festival, said there was somewhat of a debate about the birth of the apple.
“As you can imagine, Anderson’s family probably tried them for a while, then realized it was a rare find and got the Stark brothers there to view the tree,” Allen said.
The Stark brothers acquired the tree and propagated it by budding and grafting it. They advertised it heavily and at the time the world’s largest orchard company, American Fruit Growers Inc., invested in large-scale plantings of the newfound fruit.
“I have to go with the Division of History in the debate,” Allen said. “They drafted a historical marker at the site, which was in 1912, when the apple was known to be the birthday of the golden delicious apple.”
The offspring of that tree spread wealth throughout the U.S. and the world. It made its home in Italy, Holland, Greece, Germany and other countries in Europe and South Africa.
But the start of the wealth was in Clay County.
“It’s amazing how people don’t realize that it’s the state fruit of West Virginia,” Allen said. “And we’re proud of that.”
Even though the original golden delicious tree is gone, Allen and other volunteers honor the golden delicious apple with a festival each year.