The Ben Davis was not thought to have particularly exquisite flavor, especially in more northern climates, where the seasons where not long enough for it to reach full maturity. When grown in the south, it would ripen later and keep longer in storage. Its main draw was as a market apple, due to its ability to withstand transportation. It was described as being think-skinned, colorful, not showing bruises easily and having "a good appearance in the package after being handled and shipped in the ordinary way"
Growers also favored it as a dependable, hardy and vigorous variety that came into bearing relatively early in its life and bore heavy crops. It was easily propagated and would blossom late in the spring giving it an advantage over earlier blossoming cultivars that were more susceptible to late frosts and freezes.
Like many apples of its day the Ben Davis was pushed out of the orchard by new varieties that were seen as superior in flavor and quality. By the early 1900s shipping methods began to improve and varieties such as the Ben Davis, which were favored largely for their ability to travel well, were no longer as highly valued. Although the Ben Davis is for the most part out of cultivation, some of its qualities can still be found in the Cortland, one of it's progeny that is still popular today.