In 1978 All America Selections (AAS) announced that it had uncovered a surefire winner among new vegetables - an edible podded pea that could be grown to maturity and still be eaten, pod and all.
As it turned out, Sugar Snap was far more successful than even the directors of AAS had envisioned. Everyone loved the pea that was as sweet as sugar (even when overly mature) and could be eaten either raw or cooked. ''Sold out'' was found on more Sugar Snap seed racks than on any other vegetable.
Yet, it did have one great disadvantage: A tough string down the spine of the pod had to be removed before eating. It also grew taller (six feet) than most growers prefer.
Now Gallatin Valley Seed Company, developer of the original Sugar Snap and all the shorter varieties that followed, has licked that early problem.
Sugar Daddy, as the new variety has been named, is, with rare exceptions, as free of strings as the best stringless bean. The exception comes if unusually cool weather prevails when the pods form. In such situations a partial string sometimes forms down the spine of the pod. Another plus for the plant: It grows only a little more than two feet tall.
Sugar Daddy will be made available to home gardeners through commercial seed companies in the spring. An ''ample supply of seeds,'' to quote a spokesmen for Gallatin, is available for the coming season.
Seed samples of Sugar Daddy were sent to selected growers throughout much of the United States and Canada for wide-ranging trials earlier this year. The response to Research No. SP110-1-2, as the seeds were simply named, was an almost unbroken string of rave reviews. That irritating, tough string had finally been removed without compromising other qualities. It couldn't help but score.
The stringless pods of Sugar Daddy are somewhat more slender and darker than those of Sugar Snap. The 24- to 30-inch vines produce double pods at each fruiting zone near the top of the plant. The first pods are ready for picking 74 days after sowing, while the harvest continues for another two to three weeks. The vines stand heat well, but production will be reduced if a heat wave should arrive at peak flowering. Sugar Daddy also has greater disease resistance than Sugar Snap.
Another major advantage to a stringless pod: the pods won't split apart during cooking or freezing.
The Gallatin Valley Seed Company wholesales its production to most packet- seed companies and distributors. Among those that will make Sugar Daddy available to home gardeners next year are:
W. Atlee Burpee, 300 Park Avenue, Warminster, Pa. 18974.
Comstock Ferre & Co., PO Box 125, Wethersfield, Conn. 06109.
Dege Seed Company, 831 North Century Drive, St. Paul, Minn. 55119.
Dominion Seed House, Georgetown, Ontario, Canada L7G 4A2.
FEDCO Seed Company, RFD 2, PO Box 4207, Canaan, Maine 04924.
Henry Field Seed & Nursery Company, 407 Sycamore Street, Shenandoah, Iowa 51602.
Fisher's Garden Store, PO Box 236, Belgrade, Mont. 59714.
Fredonia Seed Company, 183 East Maine Street, Fredonia, N.Y. 14063.
Gurney Seed & Nursery Company, Yankton, S.D. 57078.
Chas. C. Hart Seed Company, PO Box 169, Wethersfield, Conn. 06109.
Ed Hume Seed Company, PO Box 1450, Kent, Wash. 98032.
Johnny's Selected Seeds, Albion, Maine 04910.
Charles B. Legerwood, 3862 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, Calif. 92008.
Lockhart Seed Company, 3 North Wilson Way, Stockton, Calif. 95205.
The Meyer Seed Company, 600 South Carolina, Baltimore, Md. 21231.
Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 North Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 95321.
NOSCO Inc., PO Box 5, Delta, Ohio 43515.
Ontario Seed Company Ltd., 14 Regina Street, Box 144, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2J 3Z9.
Oral Ledden & Sons, PO Box 7, Sewell, N.J. 08080.
Page Seed Company, PO Box 158, Greene, N.Y. 13778.
Geo W. Park Seed Company, Greenwood, S.C. 29647.
Pine Tree Garden Seeds, PO Box 1399, Portland, Maine 04104.
Porter & Son, Seedsmen, PO Box 104, Stephenville, Texas 76401.
Quetzal Brokerage, 335 Sycamore Avenue, Merion, Pa. 19066.
Stokes Seeds, PO Box 548, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240 and 39 James Street, PO Box 10, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2R 6R6.