Apple pie. It is a dessert that has come to define the United States. On this being THE American of Holidays, I’m sure someone in the 50 states is biting into some right now. Whether it is round or square, baked from scratch or thawed out from frozen, it is still the good old American Apple pie.
But for the longest time, the country just said “That’s American” and that was it. We just assumed it was something born from this country and ate away. But where did Apple Pie really come from? There is a story of one of America’s most well-known dessert, so what is it?
The popular thinking nowadays is that it is not. Apple Pie predates the founding on the country by about 400 years or so and Apples (or at least the type to make pies with) themselves were brought in from Europe as This side of the ocean had Crab Apples. Those aren’t the types we think of when making pies. Heck, the type of Apples we know wasn’t even possible in the day since they are pollinated by a specific type of Honey Bee, one that didn’t see American shores until the 1600’s. Apple Pies themselves were originally called “Coffins” by some accounts. And nothing says “American Holiday” like biting into a slice of a coffin.
So how did a dessert that is not from this country using ingredients brought in from Europe and produced with the help of an animal that was originally not from American shores get so big? Stories of course!
Much like most American foods that get popular, it’s origins are not concrete. But we know that it is a few hundred years old and just like everything else, people brought it with them, most likely from Europe or wherever they originally came from. Those original recipes were noted in some form and adapted to whatever was handy at the time just like most other foods. Shipping wasn’t a big thing back in that day, so you just adapted to the closest thing you had around you. With a little trial and error, you found things that worked. There are probably more recipes for homemade apple pies than there are types of apples to be found in the United States, but the recipe had to work for someone to be passed down through the generations right?
The stereotype though has also grown and changed. From Johnny Appleseed helping to create apple orchards to the idea that Americans were “pie consuming people” during the world wars. The idea has never really died, and it is a notion that Americans aren’t quick to squash either.
But in that thinking of the story, to many, it makes it that much more American. Sure, it has its roots in Europe and other nations and goes back a long time, but in the stories and experiences of “apple pie” and what it has meant to families and people over that time, it has created a mythos of its own. It’s more than just some burly guy sitting down to a fresh and hot pastry that smells incredible. Life is not a Norman Rockwell painting after all. What people really think about the experiences those pies give you. The idea of sitting down and getting something warm and yummy into your stomach means a lot of people too, even back in those days. If they make you smile, then it has done its job.
So while we celebrate one American story on this day every year more than anything else, be okay with the Apple Pie being a lot of that, story. Sure it’s not born out of the seeds of plants from American soil, and the recipes go back long before the country was even official, but so what? It does you good and makes you feel good. THAT is the most important thing to all this.
So as the fireworks go off and people are waving around American flags, don’t worry about dessert and where it actually came from. That is not really the point. No matter where it came from, it is a part of America now.