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The crunch of Jazz apples has been heard across the continent this summer, loudest of all in Dallas and Portland, OR.

Throughout August, street teams driving Jazz apple-themed sport-utility vehicles engaged with consumers at more than 60 events staged in retail outlets, parks and other venues.

As shoppers stocked up for the last picnics of the season and prepared to pack the first back-to-school lunches, Jazz apples proved an irresistible temptation, according to David Nelley, apple and pear category director for the Vancouver, BC-based Oppenheimer Group.

"Apples from New Zealand are fresh during summer," Mr. Nelley said in an Aug. 30 press release. “And during in-store sampling, just one bite of a Jazz apple can literally stop people in their tracks.”

Mr. Nelley recounted an observation in the press release from a recent retail tasting event in Texas that he said typifies the Jazz apple experience. “It is funny to watch people as they take their first bite of Jazz. Without fail, we see faces light up. Some shoppers are really busy or in a hurry. They pick up an apple slice politely and quickly walk off. And more often than not, after they take a bite, they will spin around and hurry back to learn more about this special apple. It's priceless, because you know the apple has delivered a memorable experience that could very well translate into future repeat sales.”

Behind the scenes, Oppenheimer drove traffic to the appearances using Facebook and Twitter. Regular tweets updated Jazz apple fans about the teams’ schedule and promotional pricing at participating stores. Demographic- and ZIP code-targeted Facebook ads in the two cities invited people to visit the teams and receive a gift — plus a chance to win an iPad.

“Social media adds a whole new dimension to a mobile sampling campaign like this one,” Mr. Nelley said in the release. “We are having meaningful conversations about Jazz apples on-line daily. The passion people have about this apple is pretty overwhelming.”

Oppenheimer also invited food and lifestyle bloggers in Portland and Dallas to visit the sampling events, and they heightened the profile of the program. Traditional media have taken notice as well.

“Recently, Cook’s Illustrated magazine called Jazz 'the first fruit to go viral.’ A writer tested the fruit to see if it was ‘worth the hype,’“ Mr. Nelley said in the release. “While they were having a little fun with us, we’re happy that Jazz was acknowledged in this way. Social media engages people about anything and everything, so why not apples? And of course we were glad to have the magazine’s endorsement of Jazz as a snacking and cooking apple that came as a result of the experiment.”

Jazz apples from New Zealand are in season through early autumn, and Washington-produced Jazz start shipping Nov. 1.