Whoever has been praying to the fruit gods, your prayers have been answered. All rejoice, hallelujah: Trader Joe’s Cotton Candy Grapes are back. It’s candy that tastes like a fruit, and it is exactly the energy we are all trying to exude in 2019: something healthy masquerading as something delicious.
The Instagram account @traderjoesfl — yes, there are entire fan accounts dedicated to the grocery store. If you’ve ever tried their cookie butter, you would know why — spotted the grapes at their local store in Plantation, Florida. According to a comment by the Trader Joe’s fan account, the grapes cost about $5.50 for a one-pound carton. Trader Joe’s cotton candy grapes, distributed from Dayka & Hackett, with the brand Flavor Grown, were also available last summer, priced anywhere from $3.99 a pound to $8.99 a pound. However, the grapes haven’t been seen in stock since. No word from Trader Joe’s as to whether they’re now available in all stores in light of this recent news via Instagram.
If you aren’t near a Trader Joe’s, fear not: there may be Cotton Candy Grape hope yet. Costco was also selling the candy-flavored grapes last summer, and it appears they are still available in certain areas on Instacart. Divine Flavor, another company who distributes Cotton Candy Grapes, also noted in an Instagram post comment last year that their grapes are sold at stores like Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, and Sprouts.
Cotton Candy Grapes have been on shelves since about 2011 but their growing season, and thus their availability, is limited. As Grapery, one Cotton Candy Grape distributor, lists availability as August 10 to September 10. Divine Flavor, which has supplied Trader Joe’s Cotton Candy Grapes in the past, has their availability listed from May and June on their website. In other words, if you see Cotton Candy Grapes you should snag them before they’re gone.
Availability, shmavailability: does the grape live up to its name? While they look like your run-of-the-mill green grape, the name is all in the flavor. As Grapery, explains “they’re just as sweet—and much juicier” than actual cotton candy. (Cotton candy is classically not juicy even a little bit.) Divine Flavor also describes the grape as having “100% cotton candy flavor to experience in every bite.” Okay, but what does that actually mean?
Spencer Gray, a personal chef in Culver City and blogger at Omnivorous, told NPR, “When it pops in your mouth, the first impression is a rush of cotton candy flavor.” Gray says the green grapes “don't look or smell like cotton candy … but they will remind you of a circus.” He notes hints of vanilla in the grape which may be why they give the illusion of cotton candy.
There is, of course, no actual cotton candy involved in the production of Cotton Candy Grapes. The produce falls into a similar category of “designer fruits” as products like pluots (a plum/apricot hybrid) and Hidden Rose apples (apples with bright pink flesh). Horticulturalist David Cain and his team created about 100,000 different test tube plants before finally arriving at the cotton-candy flavored grapes. “The whole process takes at least six years and sometimes up to 15 years,” Cain told NPR.
The result is a grape that contains about 18 grams of sugar per 100 grams of grapes. For context, that’s about 12 percent more than regular grapes but significantly less than raisins, which have more than three times that amount.
If you want to give the Cotton Candy grapes a try, you may have to keep a vigilant eye on the produce section of your local Trader Joe’s. Or you could use Grapery’s product locator and see which other retailers carry the elusive candy grape.