The apple is the source of legend, turns of phrase, traditions and more. Learn fun facts about the apple down below.
Apples in America
Apples, Love & Marriage
Apples in Religion & Mythology
Apples & Health
The first American to orbit the Earth, astronaut John Glenn, carried pureed applesauce in squeezable tubes on his initial space flight. Ham with applesauce was served to Gemini astronauts.
First American Orchard
The first American orchard was planted around 1625 by William Blackstone on Boston´s Beacon Hill. The first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, William Endicott, was a distinguished orchardist. Endicott´s account book noted his children had set fire to part of his operation, destroying 500 trees, a very considerable operation at that time in history. Well-known American apple orchardists include George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
From Seedlings to Staggering Variety
Americans´ fondness for seedling orchards − that is, orchards grown from seeds rather than propagation by grafting − resulted in many hundreds of new varieties more suited to the native environment. By the turn of the nineteenth century, most varieties offered by professional nurseries were native to America. Professional nurseryman Andrew Jackson Downing recorded 600 varieties in his tome published in 1859.
Only sour crab apple trees were native to America, until European settlers arrived and brought with them their English customs and favorite fruits. Native Americans appropriated what they liked, cultivating apples extensively.
A Symbol of Love & Fertility
The apple also appears as a symbol of love and fertility, even eroticism. By early Greek history, the apple figured in courtship as well as the rites and customs of marriage. For example, the happy couple in the seventh century B.C. might share an apple as a symbol of their marriage and hopes for a fruitful union.
Apples at Weddings
The modern tradition of tossing rice at the happy couple evolved from an ancient practice of throwing apples at weddings − likely to the relief of the newlyweds.
An A-Peel-Ing Spouse
An Irish and Scottish custom prescribed throwing an apple peel over one´s shoulder, which would form the initial of your lover´s name.
Bobbing for Apples Origin
The game of apple-bobbing began as a Celtic New Year´s tradition for trying to determine one´s future spouse
The Forbidden Fruit
Although the fruit is not actually named or described in the Bible, apples are commonly regarded as the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. This smudge on the apple´s reputation may be un-deserving, however, as archeological evidence argues that the apple was unknown in the Middle East at the time the Book of Genesis was written. The poet John Milton might have first named the apple is the biblical fruit of the Garden of Eden in Paradise Lost.
Apples In Judaism
During the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah, apple slices are dipping in honey and eaten in hopes for a sweet new year. A traditional food of Passover is Haroset, a mixture of apple, nuts, win and spices, representing the bricks and mortar the Children of Israel were forced to use to build for their captors during their captivity in Egypt.
Apples and Greek Mythology – Aphrodite
The apple appears throughout mythology as a symbol of desire and temptation. This may have its roots in stories about Aphrodite, goddess of love and marriage, who was presented in several occasions in art holding an apple. The myth of Atalanta further contributes to this idea. The fleet-footed maiden, told by an oracle that she would die if she wed, refused to marry unless the suitor could beat her in a foot race. Hippomenes bested Atalanta with the help of Aphrodite, who provided him with three golden apples. Stopping to collect the baubles lobbed in her path each time she took the lead cost Atalanta her maidenhood.
Apples and Greek Mythology – Eris
The Greek goddess of discord, Eris, started the Trojan War with an apple. Miffed at having not been invited to a wedding, she tossed among the guests a golden apple inscribed “To the fairest.” To put an end to the squabbling among their goddesses who each felt deserving of the apple, the mortal Paris chose Aphrodite the winner of what was probably the first beauty contest. Rejected, Hera and Athena wreaked havoc on Paris and his family, eventually leading to the Trojan War.
The Apple As A Symbol of the Sun
The apple also appears as a symbol of the sun´s life-giving warmth in many cultures´ legends. Apple trees were sacred to the sun god Apollo; in fact, the name Apollo comes from the same root as the modern English word apple. The Celts revered the then-unknown Britain as a happy kingdom of the sun called the Isle of Apples, or Avalon, and it was here than King Arthur supposedly went to spend eternity.
Adam´s apple: This physiological terminology sprung from the conception that the protuberance on a man´s throat was caused by a piece of forbidden apple from the Garden of Eden´s Tree of Knowledge lodged in Adam´s throat, rather than the thyroid cartilage of the larynx.
An Apple A Day...
An apple a day keeps the doctor away: Derived from the old English saying, “Ate an apfel avore gwain to bed, make the doctor beg his bread,” the original author of this most popular apple saying has been lost to history. Today, the expression rings truer than ever, as our knowledge of apples´ many and myriad health benefits increases.
An Apple For The Teacher
An apple for the teacher: We confess, we don´t know how this saying originated. (If you find out anything, let us know.) It probably harkens back to the “apple polisher.”
Apple eater: A term used to describe one who is easily led astray, its roots are found in the biblical story of the Garden of Eden.
Apple Of My Eye
Apple of my eye: This expression dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, when people conceived of the pupil of the eye to be, like the apple, a global object. The word itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon “aeppel”, which literally meant both “eye” and “apple.” In addition to providing the literal, vital sense of vision, the pupil was also regarded as the figurative "window" to the treasured secrets within each of us. Thus, the “apple of my eye” meant someone very beloved.
Apple polisher: The custom of “apple polishing” hails from the little red schoolhouses of yore. Young children whose math skills were less than exemplary sought to win their teacher´s favorite instead with a gift of a bright, shiny apple. Remember this ditty? “An apple for the teacher will always do the trick when you don´t know your lesson in arithmetic.”
American As Apple Pie
As American as apple pie: Americans may profess to have invented this quintessentially American dessert, but history books trace pie as far back as 14th Century England. Pie-making skills, along with apple seeds, came over with the Pilgrims, and as the country prospered the rather slim apple pie of colonial times became the deep-dished extravaganza we enjoy today. Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, apple pie became the symbol of American prosperity, causing one American newspaper to proclaim in 1902,“No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.”
One Bad Apple
One bad apple spoils the whole bunch: First coined by Chaucer as, “the rotten apple injures its neighbors.”
The Big Apple
The Big Apple: This nickname for one of our nation´s greatest cities, New York, dates from the 1930s and ´40s, when jazz jived in clubs across the country. The smoky clubs of New York City were the favorite hotspots of the likes of Charlie Parker and other jazz greats, and Manhattan soon became known for having “lots of apples on the tree” − that is, lots of places to play jazz.
Upper crust: In early America, when times were hard and cooking supplies were scarce, cooks often had to scrimp and save on ingredients. Apple pie was a favorite dish, but to save on lard and flour, only a bottom crust was made. More affluent households could afford both an upper and a lower crust, so those families became known as “the upper crust.”
Apples, Apple Products & Your Health
Apples not only taste great but they also provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that help to protect from chronic diseases. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we eat more fruits and veggies than any other food group − for adults, that´s 3½ to 6½ cups (7 to 13 servings) daily for better health. At least 2 of those 3½ to 6½ cups of fruits and veggies should be fruit. One cup of apples equals: 1 small apple, ½ large apple, 1 cup sliced raw or cooked apples, ½ cup of dried apples, 1 cup of 100% apple juice or cider, and 1 cup of applesauce. So consider packing apples, or delicious apple products like juice and applesauce, for your family during car trips, beach/pool trips, picnics, summer camp lunches, and plane trips.
Healthy Image of Apples in Greek Mythology
The healthy image of apples probably finds its source in Greek myths, some of which have foundations as far back as the New Stone Age, in which apples are a token of knowledge and immortality. In one myth, Hercules achieves immortality by eating a sacred apple before submitting to his ritual slaughter. In other myths, apples are associated with the healing gods Apollo, Hercules and Dionysus.
Apples & Digestion
The custom of serving fresh fruit, particularly apples, at the end of a meal arose because of digestive qualities attributed to them by such early medical notables as Hippocrates and Galen, the latter a second-century Roman physician.
Therapeutic Application of Apples
The medieval physician ́s bible, the Salerno medical school ́s Prescription for Health, taught therapeutic applications of cooking apples for disturbances of the bowels, lungs and nervous system, to mention just a few.
Apples as Antidepressants
Apple juice was one of the earliest prescribed antidepressants.
The Curative Powers of Apples
Apples' curative powers were documented by self-proclaimed master surgeon John Gerarde in 1597. Apples were used as treatments for ailments from “a hot stomacke” and inflammations of all types, and as a beauty therapy