What is it about apples and funny names — specifically, punny variations on the word “apple” itself?

The best known example in recent years is probably the Grapple, the concord grape-flavored fuji whose proper pronunciation is so counter-intuitive (it’s grape-el, not, well, grapple) they have to explain it to you on the packaging.

Then there’s the Opal, the golden delicious/Topaz cross marketed exclusively in North America by Yakima, Wash.-based FirstFruits Marketing of Washington.

The Opal, first grown in Europe in 2000, is known for its bright color, crunchy texture and tangy flavor.

But it’s better known — to me, at least — as a variety that sounds a lot like “apple” and that’s fun to say three times fast with “apple.”

Opalappleopalappleopalapple. I wonder how many consumers have gotten confused and asked the produce clerk if they have any “apple Opals”?

And now, before Opalapple slips out of my mouth again, I’d like to welcome the third variety likely to make English major apple lovers happy.

It’s the...Papple.

I paused there before saying “Papple” out of respect for David Nelley, category director for apples and pears for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group, the North American marketer of the New Zealand-grown Papple.

When Nelley was telling me about the Papple the other day, he was so apologetic about the name he prefaced it with the phrase “the unfortunately named.”

Then, after saying the word “Papple” as quickly as he could, Nelley immediately tried to soften it by telling me, “I think they’re working on a new name.”

I have to admit, as much as I’ve rolled my eyes at the Grapple (again, that’s GRAPE-el) over the years, I would probably put the Papple at the bottom of the apple punny name list.

It’s also misleading. There’s only one lousy p to represent “pear,” while “apple” manages to get all five of its letters in the title — even though the variety, a cross between an asian pear and a red bartlett pear, is, you could argue, only one-quarter apple.

(As the folks from Kingsburg Orchards are always keen to remind me, another term — some would say the preferred term — for Asian pear is “apple pear” — half apple, half pear.)

Nelley, from New Zealand, may be extra sensitive about the name since the Papple comes from his homeland. But he says demand for the variety, which stands out in the category for its color and taste, has been through the roof.

And he’s optimistic about the Papple’s chances in this, its sophomore season in North America, though volumes will be limited. It should be on retail shelves in May, June and July.

I’m willing to give the Papple — or whatever it’s called when it finally reaches Kansas City — a chance. After all, Nelley told me, it’s grown exclusively in the Nelson region of New Zealand.

Now that’s a name I can trust.

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.