Just as the season's first tangy-sweet Enza Jazz apples from New Zealand arrived in stores across North America, a member of its namesake cycling team was crowned Queen of the Mountains on the streets of Philadelphia.
The first weekend in June drew the world's top pro cyclists to the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship. This 57.6-mile road race consists of four laps around a 14.4-mile circuit, which includes four steep climbs up the famous Manayunk Wall's grueling 17 percent grade. With a team effort behind her, Jazz Apple's Ruth Corset catapulted through Queen of the Mountain sprints and was honored on the podium as the best climber in the women's field. Afterward, Ms. Corset and her teammates lost no momentum as they delivered Jazz apple samples to many in the crowd of over 50,000.
The Philadelphia International race marked the halfway point of the fourth annual Jazz Apple Cycling Team campaign, which began in May. The race schedule includes events in Fayetteville, AR; Minneapolis; Nevada City, NV; San Jose, Manhattan Beach and San Luis Obispo in California; and Vancouver, BC. In tandem with the race calendar, the team is promoting the benefits of Jazz apples through media interviews, in-store appearances and race-venue sampling.
"The Jazz Apple Cycling Team's goal is to generate awareness about the tangy-sweet, crisp eating experience that Jazz apples consistently deliver," David Nelley, apple and pear category director for The Oppenheimer Group, said in a June 23 press release. "The energy the athletes embody and the audience they reach are perfectly aligned with the brand message of Jazz."
Oppenheimer is the exclusive North American marketer of Jazz, which is grown under license to New Zealand-based Enza.
The squad is comprised of a combination of established and developing New Zealand riders. Led by director and former Olympian Susy Pryde, the team includes returning members Lauren Ellis, a Beijing World Cup gold medalist, Australian phenom Ruth Corset and New Zealand track representative Malindi Maclean. New to the team are former U.S. national champion Dotsie Bausch and Canadian under-23 talent Steph Roorda.
"Jazz is still a new apple to many consumers," Mr. Nelley said in the release. "For many people, interacting with the cycling team while they taste the fruit for the first time is a powerful experience. Once people taste Jazz and experience the crisp snap, they're hooked."
He added, "We hear things while sampling like, 'This is my new favorite apple,' 'This apple has a pop' and 'I love the crunch.' We also won over no small number of Honeycrisp fans at a race event in Minnesota, where that variety has its roots, which shows the strong potential for Jazz."
Jazz aficionados are following the cycling team and tweeting about the apple on Twitter. "We've been pleasantly surprised by the response to the Twitter site," Mr. Nelley said in the release. "We have nearly 200 followers, including food bloggers and magazines. It's a place for cycling fans to get a little closer to the team and show their support, and is yet another component of the relationship we're building between consumers and Jazz."
The Twitter site can be found at twitter.com/jazzapple, with more detailed race updates posted on www.jazzapple.com.
The Oppenheimer Group is offering Jazz apples from New Zealand from now through October, with Washington-grown Jazz entering the market in November.