The Hackenbracht family knows a good apple when they see one. At Tastee Apple, autumn is their busiest season beginning with the popular caramel apple. Using quality products produces an apple with satisfaction guaranteed. No wonder this apple business has been around for 47 years.
Since John Hackenbracht owned an orchard and managed the Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Association, apples were constantly on his mind. While he had thoughts of selling caramel apples, it wasn’t until his son, Greg was graduating from high school that the business actually began. Greg would go to college six months out of the year and work at Tastee Apple, Inc. the other six.
Once Greg received his BS in Marketing from Bowling Green State University, he joined Tastee Apple on a full-time basis. Since Greg grew up on a fruit farm with 4,000 apple and peach trees, he was very familiar with fruit from childhood on and loved promoting it.
The business began with one caramel machine and a caramel recipe that Greg developed himself. They still use that original recipe from 1974 because its smooth taste can’t be beat. That’s why they’re called America’s Favorite Caramel Apples.
That first year, they made 50,000 dozen caramel apples. Today, they make 50,000 dozen apples in four days. Things are more automated now but they still employ 150 people in the plant during their peak season. They treat everyone with kindness, just as they would like to be treated.
Over the years, John and Greg have tried various other products as well but the caramel apple has stood the test of time. From 1980-2013, they produced cider. Shortly after that they discovered a way to use the pumice left over from the apple cider. They dried and ground it into a fine powder, which was added to fruit fillings, cereal, and exotic pet food.
The Hackenbrancht family likes to try new ideas and over the years have made apple chips, potato chips, sweet potato chips, and popcorn balls. An idea for the future is chocolate bark, which has been requested by several companies already.
Tastee has sold over 250,000,000 apples with candy, chocolate, caramel, and other toppings. All the apples are chosen by a process guaranteed for quality and freshness of the fruit. Even their firmness is measured before being cleaned carefully to avoid bruising. In 2015, Greg added a special probiotic to be sprayed onto the apples after cleaning to keep them even healthier.
Today, most of their apples are purchased from growers in Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. Their gourmet apples are purchased from Washington state. The farther north the apples are grown, the more firm the cellular structure, which makes for more desirable caramel apples.
Approximately 10% of the apples that come from reputable suppliers are still rejected as Tastee Apple is striving for perfection. These discarded apples are used by another company for cider or juice.
The perfectly-ripe apples are then “sticked” in made-from-scratch kettle-cooked caramel or a candy coating. After the apples cool, they are dressed by being rolled in toppings like varieties of chocolate or rolled in fresh peanuts, pecans, cookies, or pretzels. Currently, their triple chocolate apple is one of their best sellers. Only high quality products are used in making these apples.
No apple gets the Tastee Apple label unless it is fresh and perfect. Quality is their main concern. While the fresh apples are dipped in a generous coating of caramel or candy, the more important ingredient for the Hackenbrachts is family pride. They guarantee your satisfaction!
Their aim for perfection can be seen in what they consider “seconds.” These are apples covered in perfection but the stick was not placed in straight. They would not send these to their customers.
Before long, Greg will be retiring and his son, Chad, plans to carry on the family tradition. Chad has spent the last few years of his life as a race car driver and is a NASCAR champion. Now he’s learning the fine points of the caramel apple business from his dad.
Locally, Tastee Apples can be purchased from Riesbeck’s and Walmart or by ordering online at www.tasteeapple.com . They are popular all over the United States from Miami to Texas and all along the east coast. They seem to be a favorite of people in New York City.
Tastee Apple, Inc. is located at 60810 Co Rd 9, Newcomerstown on the banks of the Tuscarawas River. Bite into a nutritious, mouthwatering Tastee Apple sometime soon. You may prefer just a slice as their gourmet apples are very large!