The Ben Davis Apple
Contributed by Rosemary Reeves
The Ben Davis Apple was an important variety in the east at the turn of the century. It had utility to the consumer because of its extraordinary handling characteristics and long storage life. Here was an apple that you could dump into a barrel, screw the lid down tight, roll onto a cart and transport by horse-drawn wagon over primitive roads to the nearest port or rail siding. Ben Davis could survive the trip in an unrefrigerated boxcar or ship's hold to a distant market and it provided a fresh apple that otherwise would have been unavailable to the consumer." (Source - Apple Growers Assoc.)
Benjamin Barzilla Davis developed and produced this apple in Pike County, Illinois in the late 1800`s. One person described it as tasting like skin covered cotton! But I guess one took what one could get.
Another sources relates - "The Ben Davis apple was considered a worthless apple, at least in parts of Pennsylvania. The apples were small, hard, dry, and tasteless. Its sole redeeming quality was its keeping quality. It took about five years for this apple tree to bear. In the Southern States the Ben Davis has had a better reputation.