Yes, it’s true. Apparently a "fresh, juicy, extra fancy Washington apple"–a Fuji at that–is not good enough. It has to be "infused with concentrated grape flavor and pure water." The exact process is a secret–a "Patent pending process," to be precise– that has been approved by the USDA and the FDA, and has been licensed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
Well, that makes me feel much better.
The website goes on to explain that this is not genetic modification, and that the addition of the grape flavor adds no sugar or calories. News reports speculate that the apples are soaked in "natural and artificial grape flavoring" to give them their added sparkle. Grapples are marketed to children and "busy moms" who can’t be bothered with ordinary apples. You can even buy them pre-sliced in a plastic bag–because it’s so much work to actually bite into an apple and chew. Who’s got time for that anymore? Not busy moms, that’s for sure. I haven’t tasted one, but judging from reports on the Internet, it’s really got that bubble gum/grape soda flavor that’s been missing from apples all these years.
Oh, and by the way–they want you to pronounce it GRAPE-L, as in, a juicy new grape-flavored product from Washington State, not "grapple," as in, a struggle for comprehension. Got it? Good.