History of Apple Pie
The idea of apple pie came from the British, Dutch, and Swedes and wasn’t brought to the American colonies until the 17th and 18th century. Apples actually didn’t make it to the colonies until the early 1800’s. The only native apples were crabapples which are a small and sour fruit. Eventually, planting from seeds became a popular way to grow apple trees, leading to the colonization of many new native varieties. It was then that apples became plentiful in early colonial America.
Until seeding and planting of apple trees, apples were scarce or not ideal for pie. Early colonists used meat in their pie recipes. In fact, meat pies were more popular than sweet pies for most of the 17th and 18th century. If this was the case, then how did apple pie become so synonymous with American life?
It turns out in the early 1900’s the apple pie was promoted a symbol of American pride through targeted campaigns. Soldiers were known to say “for mom and apple pie” in their stock answers to journalists who asked them why they were going to war during World War II. Songs were created, such as Jack Holden and Frances Kay’s famous “The Fiery Bear” using apple pie as a symbol of America in 1950. In the 1970’s, advertisers exploited apple pie, among other symbols such as baseball, hot dogs, and Chevrolet, as the ultimate American symbols. So the more the symbol was used, the more it became a part of our culture.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is the recipe for apple pie. Over the centuries, the ingredients in apple pie have remained relatively consistent and steadfast. Basics include apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, sugar and a pie crust. Although sugar is widely used in recipes today, early apple pie recipes were made without sugar because it was a costly and scarce ingredient.
Today apple pie is often served “a la mode” meaning it has a scoop of ice cream, usually vanilla, served alongside it. In the mid-west, it is customary to serve a piece of sharp cheddar cheese on the side of the apple pie slice. Despite these minute serving differences, apple pie is a consistent dish across the US. When you order it, in just about any state, you will get about the same thing everywhere. Maybe that’s one of the things that make it so American. Now let’s make some apple pie! Here are a few fantastic Blue Ribbon recipes worth trying.