Hand-dipped caramel apples, decorated for the season Hand-dipped caramel apples, decorated for the season Hand-dipped caramel apples, decorated for the season, are a favorite this time of year. (Photo: Arina P Habich/Shutterstock)

​Where to find America's largest and best caramel apples

We’ve tasted and tested, just in time for National Caramel Apple Day.

As a kid, I could dream up no greater sweet than an oversized caramel apple, sticky sweet, crispy and tart, all mounted on a beautiful ribboned stick. So when I passed the Mrs Prindables booth at this summer’s Fancy Food Show displaying drop-dead gorgeous oversized candy apples, I was all in. The show was nearing the end, and the kind lady must have seen that look in my eyes – and she gave me a massive apple to take home. That night my daughter and I carefully sliced into that beauty, and we were smitten.

Harvest-themed caramel apples covered in chocolate, from Mrs Prindables. Harvest-themed caramel apples covered in chocolate, from Mrs Prindables. (Photo: Mrs Prindables)

I used to scoff at candy apples – the hard, red-coated treats that were displayed in the fall – everyone knew it was a surefire way to break your teeth, and really not worth the trouble. But this new creation, the caramel apple, was gooey, crispy, sweet, tart, and didn’t require a chainsaw to sink your teeth into it.

candy apples Old-style candy apples on sale in a market. (Photo: RnDmS / Shutterstock)

With Caramel Apple Day upon us, I did some research on the first, the biggest, and the best caramel apples that can be found in the United States. Guinness notes that the largest apple in the world was grown in 2005 in Japan by Chisato Iwasaki at his apple farm in Hirosaki City. Iwasaki chose not to douse his heavy apple in caramel, but the apples sold by Rachel Dunn chocolates come in close, at 2.5 or 3 pounds each. And the Wall Street Journal chose Amy’s Gourmet Apples as the best overall.

The very first caramel apple was created in 1948 by Mrs. Edna Kastrup, and Mrs Prindables is still carrying on that tradition. That’s the brand of caramel apple I tasted at the fancy food show, and it was divine – covered in caramel, walnuts, pecans, and smooth milk chocolate. They may not be the biggest caramel apples, but these are the originals and can be up to 1.5 pounds and serve 8-10 people. Mrs Prindables caramel apples are sold at big box food stores around the holidays, and in high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales.

Mrs Prindables apples on display at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. Mrs Prindables apples on display at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. (Photo: Sarah Berkowitz)

“Every single gourmet apple from Mrs Prindables is handmade,” shared Heidi Spillane, senior marketing manager at Mrs Prindables. “There’s someone standing there striping the apple with different flavors of chocolate, rolling it in nuts, and putting on all the finishing touches.” They also cook the caramel in small batches to ensure quality and consistency.

Today it’s all about getting what you want, when you want it – and caramel apples are not just limited to the fall season. Spillane says gourmet caramel apples are very popular hostess gifts, and they have unique, decorative options for special occasions – including birthdays, weddings, and holidays.

hatbox gift box of Mrs Prindables caramel apples These treats make great holiday gifts, too. (Photo: Mrs Prindables)

So sure, you can make your own caramel apples. But even as a serious foodie, and someone who loves home-cooked dishes and baked goods, I say: leave some things to the experts. And who wants to clean a sticky, caramel coated pot (not to mention the rest of the kitchen!) at this busy time of year?

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​Where to find America's largest and best caramel apples
We’ve traveled, tasted and tested, just in time for National Caramel Apple Day.