Apples were first cultivated in the Tien Shan mountains in what is now Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia that’s east of the Caspian Sea. Known in horticulture as Malus sieversii, these apples were not the sweet varieties that we know today. They were much smaller than many of the varieties that we currently enjoy. They were also somewhat bitter.
Traders along the silk road eventually brought the apple to Europe. The English cultivated this fruit and fermented them to create cider and applejack. English settlers brought the apple and the tradition of using them to make alcohol to the American colonies in1607.
The sweet varieties that we know and appreciate today were all cultivated from mutations. For example, the Red Delicious was discovered in Iowa and was developed by the Stark Nursery Company to make it larger and more sweet.
The Golden Delicious began as an errant seedling that was found growing in a hedgerow in West Virginia. In time branches from its descendants were grafted into millions of trees. After the end of World War II, Golden Delicious seedlings were sent to Europe to help with reviving the European fruit industry.
The Honey Crisp was first cultivated by the University of Minnesota’s Agriculture Experiment Station in 1974. Originally designated as MN-1711, this fruit is a hybrid of other apples including the Duchess of Oldenburg, the Golden Delicious, the Keepsake, and the Northern Spy. The Honey Crisp was patented in 1988 and released for sale in 1991. It is now the 5th most popular apple that’s sold in the United States. The other four that are most purchased in the United States (in order of popularity) are Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji.
Today there are 7,500 varieties of apples that are grown throughout the world. 2,500 different varieties are grown here in the United States.
Apples are one of my favorite fruits. They may be eaten fresh or baked into pies, apple cobbler, or apple bread. They may be cooked down into an apple sauce or turned into apple butter. I’ve even used dried apple slices as a meat substitute in vegan stews. The leathery dried fruit holds together surprisingly well and has the texture of stewed meat.
Last week I used a Honey Crisp to create a silicone mold to produce these apple candles. They look and smell like juicy apples.
Another of my favorite fruits is the orange. Oranges have been cultivated for over 7,000 years and are thought to have originated in India. Sweet oranges came to Europe when Portuguese merchant ships began trading with India during the 16th century. Spanish Conquistadores subsequently brought this fruit to the New World.
According to Purdue University, the orange tree is the most commonly grown fruit tree on the planet. Oranges are cultivated in the subtropical and tropical regions of America, northern and eastern Mediterranean countries, Australia, and South Africa.
In addition to being prized for their sweet tasting fruit, oranges produce juice for concentrates. Essential oils, pectin, candied peel, and orange marmalade are all byproducts of the orange juice industry. The waste left after processing is used as animal stock feed.
In Culinary Arts, I’ve taught my students how to make an orange icing. They’ve used this icing to glaze cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies. My advanced culinary students have used orange concentrate to produce the orange chicken pictured below left. As a candlemaker, I’ve used an orange fragrance (mixed with ginger, garlic, and brown sugar aromas) to produce the orange chicken and shrimp candles, pictured below right.
After having made an apple candle, I was inspired to make the mandarin orange candle pictured below. This candle smells like a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Since I now had silicone molds for an apple and an orange, I decided to create the whimsical fruit candles pictured below. I used the orange mold to create a blood orange which I placed over an apple prior to topping it with a bing cherry. The cherry smells like a sweet and tart cherry. The orange smells like an orange. The apple smells like an apple.
These candles along with the Genoa cherry candle and the Belgian waffle will NOT be added to the current inventory of Tasty-Candles at Shop Nevada. Since a week has passed with no sales, I will be adding these new lines of candles to a store that I’ll be opening on Etsy.com. To stock this store, I will draw down current inventory levels at Shop Nevada.
My virtual store at Shop Nevada will remain open for the time being. Since vendor membership is free, it won’t cost me anything to maintain a minimum presence on this site. If I were to sell anything, all sales would also be commission free.
The problem with Shop Nevada is that it has almost no traffic. While well established stores who have already developed a customer base can likely do well on this site, newcomers like myself who have no brand name recognition will struggle to find business.
Although Shop Nevada does not charge a commission and will allow me to keep 100% of all sales, 100% of nothing sold is still nothing. In contrast, Etsy charges 20 cents per listing along with a 5% transaction fee which includes the cost of shipping. They also charge 25 cents per sale.
A $50 candle that ships for $4.40 would cost a customer $54.40. Etsy would charge $3.18 for listing, processing, and commission fees. I would net $42.43 after the cost of shipping.
Of the 81.9 million shoppers who flocked to Etsy last year, I only need a small fraction of these people to purchase my candles. Since my candles are all hand crafted, I will never have many in stock. While I need access to more customers than I currently have at Shop Nevada, I don’t need the sheer numbers who shop at Amazon or eBay. I also have no interest in paying their 15% commission.
It helps that I have the luxury of time and that my livelihood isn’t dependent upon sales. To keep my tax benefits with the IRS, I only have to generate 3 years of profit out of every five. If I earn less than $16,000, I will also be able to renew my business license next August at no cost to myself.
I am now taking some time to build more inventory. Although the average business person would likely want to expedite opening a store so as to take advantage of Christmas shopping, I feel no compulsion to actually do this. As someone who is autistic, I would prefer to avoid standing in long crowded lines at the post office even if this means losing the potential to sell my products during a peak shopping time of the year.
I am now debating whether or not I want to open an Etsy store next week or wait until January after the Christmas break. Since Tasty-Candles was developed as a seasonal business that will not ship anything during the summer given the season’s heat and the fact that I don’t want my candles to melt while in transit, I am also thinking of delaying the launch of an Etsy store until next October.
Although I am leaning towards the third option, opening an Etsy store in January would at least give me some sales and shipping experience prior to closing the store from May 15 through October 15.