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Why the Apple Family Should Increase Production and Distribution of Cider

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Between the episode "Where The Apple Lies" (S06E23) and "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" (S02E15), we've seen a picture of the Apple family's system of making and selling apple cider. I think that system is incoherent, unable to even come close to meeting the demand for Apple family cider, and serves no one well - not the Apple family themselves, not the relatively few customers who are able to buy their cider, and not the many more potential customers who want to, but are unable to, buy their cider. Yet, despite this failure of the Apple family's cider system, they seem to refuse to consider changing it, and so everyone has to put up with it, day after day and year after year. So I'll try to make a case for why the Apple family's current cider system is so bad, and why it can, and ought to be, improved.

 

First, let's recount what we've seen about how the Apple family makes and sells cider. During cider season every year, the Apple family makes a batch of cider every day, on the order of 25 barrels. And each day in cider season, ponies can buy mugs of cider (apparently with no limit, considering how many Pinkie buys) on a first-come first-served basis at a stand on Sweet Apple Acres that the Apple family runs themselves. When the batch of cider for the day runs out, that's it - anyone who wasn't able to buy any just has to wait for the next day to take another chance at doing so. The line for the cider stand looks as though it consists of at least tens, if not hundreds, of ponies, with some ponies literally camping out overnight (if not longer) to ensure their early spots in line. All these ponies might wait in line for hours every day, and many, if not most, of them end up getting nothing for all the time spent doing so. This is the situation which Flim and Flam see when they bring their Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to Ponyville and get most of the town understandably excited at the prospect of being able to produce cider on a much larger scale than the Apples are currently doing.

 

So why does this system continue to be used? In "Where The Apple Lies", Big Mac tells Filthy Rich that, apparently, every time Stinkin' Rich asks Granny Smith about his selling Apple family cider, Granny Smith says that it's a "tradition" for "everypony in Ponyville" to line up out at Sweet Apple Acres to buy cider. But who actually likes this "tradition", and who is enforcing it? We know from "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" that "everypony in Ponyville" does NOT like forming a line tens or hundreds of ponies long and standing in it for hours every day during cider season for the chance to buy maybe a few mugs of cider. There are many ponies who would probably want to buy Apple family cider in higher quantities, and without standing in line for hours every day to try to get it, if only that option were available. Instead, the Apple family continues to anger most of their potential customers by enforcing the "first-come first-served waiting in line at the cider stand" method of selling cider, and thus not even allowing those potential customers to buy any cider at all, while also wasting who-knows-how-many hours of their time.

 

The supposed reason why cider can only be sold at the stand on Sweet Apple Acres, and the Rich family cannot be allowed to sell it, according to Granny Smith in "Where The Apple Lies", is that "zap apple jam jars preserve the flavor for moons, but cider starts to spoil the second it comes out the press". So, what, apple cider doesn't taste quite as good if it's bottled and sold a few days (or even weeks) after it's made? Why is that a problem? Again, there seem to be plenty of ponies who would be perfectly willing to buy cider that was bottled previously, even knowing that it may not be at the absolute peak of flavor; again, currently many of them get no cider at all, and the ones that do can only get a few mugs after standing in line for a long time. Thinking about real life, I've heard that apple cider (or orange juice, etc.) that's pasteurized and sold in jugs at the grocery store (or at an orchard, for that matter) isn't quite as good as freshly squeezed. But even so, plenty of people are willing to buy that, because they want to buy large quantities, or drink it when it's not necessarily in season, or just don't want to have to go to an orchard every time they want to drink it. And there are still lots of orchards where tourists and locals who want to buy and drink freshly made cider can do so. It doesn't have to be only one or the other. Again, the Apple family is failing to serve (and angering) many of their potential customers by severely restricting the quantity and manner in which they can buy cider, even when there would be pretty obvious demand for cider that isn't 100% fresh and can only be bought in mugs at the cider stand.

 

But the funny thing about this is that, at the beginning of "Where The Apple Lies", Apple Bloom mixes up crates containing apple cider and zap apple jam. So the Apple family is apparently making crates presumably containing jugs of cider. And at the end of that episode, we even see Granny Smith pull out a jug of cider to serve to the family gathered there. Why would the Apple family make crates of jugs of cider, if not to sell them? And wouldn't doing that be in direct contradiction to Granny Smith's supposed rationale (i.e., that the cider starts spoiling immediately after it's made) for only selling cider in mugs at the stand on Sweet Apple Acres? If the Apple family already makes crates of jugs of cider for some purpose, then what's the problem with allowing the Rich family to sell some of them?

 

So we see from both "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" and "Where The Apple Lies" that there's much more demand for cider than the Apple family's current system is capable of meeting. Applejack even says that "cider sales keep our business afloat through the winter", so cider is apparently a significant moneymaker. Thus the Apple family should increase production and increase distribution! If cider is one of the Apple family's more profitable products, then they should use more of their apple crop to make cider (and, if necessary, plant more apple trees from which they can make cider). And if the Apple family themselves aren't capable of ramping up cider production, then they should hire ponies and teach them the "Apple family way" of producing cider to help make more. We see the rest of the Mane Six help the Apple family make cider, so other ponies are certainly capable of doing so. And we see the residents of Ponyville get excited at the prospect of Flim and Flam making and selling cider, so there are many ponies who are willing to buy cider that isn't necessarily made personally by the Apple family. Next, the Apple family should make that cider more widely available, rather than the "first-come first-served waiting in line at the cider stand" method. They could sell cider in jugs and maybe even in barrels, and allow ponies to pre-order larger quantities and pick them up when they're made, so that more ponies who want cider can get it, and don't have to wait in line for hours to try (and often fail) to buy only a few mugs at a time. This is where the Apple family could negotiate with Filthy Rich to allow him to sell jugs of cider at his store, for the convenience of his customers. These are just ideas that I came up with, and I don't think I'm a particularly creative or entrepreneurial person.

 

I think if the Apple family did things like this to increase production and distribution of their cider, then everyone's lives could be made better. The Apple family could make more money by producing more of the cider that consumers desire, and by hiring help, they could choose to spend as much or as little time on making and selling the cider as they want, rather than taking it only upon themselves to make the cider and sell it at the stand (and deal with all the angry ponies who waited in line). If the Apple family successfully negotiated with Filthy Rich to sell cider, then he could make more money and probably increase customer traffic to his store. And hundreds of ponies who want to buy cider could do so, in the quantities that they want and without wasting countless hours in line to get it. So it's particularly galling to me that the Apple family could improve the lives of themselves and hundreds of potential customers by changing their system of making and selling cider, but they're apparently so blindly devoted to "tradition" that they refuse to make any significant changes to it. This might be one of the most frustrating things I've seen on the show, and is one of the main reasons (among many others) why I find "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" so exasperating and annoying to watch.

 

What do you think? Do you agree that the Apple family's system of making and selling cider can and should be changed? Are there points for or against doing so that you think I missed? Thanks for reading!

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