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Posts Tagged ‘Apple Pie’

Though apple pie was regularly baked and consumed in Europe long before it made its way to the United States, Americans still managed to claim it as something of their own–something that is so completely American it is even used as a relative comparison point when talking about just how American something else is. When you say that something is, “As American as apple pie,” you mean to say that it is completely and unquestionably American in nature.

However, in the origins of this dessert, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Colonies in the Americas originally had no native apple trees at all–save for crabapples, which were only used for the production of cider. It wasn’t until after the introduction of more palatable versions of the fruit from Europe that apples began to replace the more commonplace meat pie of the time.

Still, from the late 1800s/early 1900s onward, apple pie slowly gathered traction as a symbol of American prosperity, national pride, and freedom. Today, it is paired with baseball, old American cars, and mom’s home cooking–things that are quintessentially nostalgic in nature. It evokes a feeling of patriotism–perhaps because, like the vast majority of American citizens, it too is an immigrant, traveling overseas in order to find its new home in the land of opportunity.

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Apple Pie

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We’ve all heard the phrase “as American as apple pie.” However, it did not originate in America, with the dessert’s history going back to at least the 14th century. In fact, the only apples indigenous to America is the crab apple, which are typically too tart to eat on their own. Apples had to be imported from other countries, in order to make orchards to have a steady stream of available apples in the country. 

So why is Apple Pie considered so American, especially when pies made with strawberry and blueberry are creations of the US? I suppose this goes along with the “bastard child” description of America I mentioned way back in the first week of class. Our country isn’t about originality. Instead, it’s about taking ideas and cultures from all around the world, and making them our own. So in that way, maybe Apple Pie really is a true American food.

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An Apple Pie America

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I never grew up eating apple pie. In fact, the only time I would even see an apple pie would be during holidays, but I somehow always associated apple pie with America. To me, apple pie meant those small town American values. Apple pie was what you would bring to a new neighbor just moving in next door. Apple pie stood for the housewife who spent hours making a hearty meal while wearing her apron, but never complained because she enjoyed her duties. Apple pie represented the family of four who ate dinner every night together and talked about what happened in their day. This one food found a way to embrace all of the values of the classic small town American life. For many, apple pie is America.
Apple pie has become an American contradiction through time. As American society changed, the apple pie stayed exactly the same in appearance, in taste, and in what it represents. Society through time has come to change. We no longer expect that a young girl will grow up to be a housewife making a home cooked meal every night. Many of us no longer sit down and eat dinner together every night as a family. We don’t want desert every single day following dinner. Our society has turned away from those small-town family values and towards convenience. We think have changed what it means to be American, but did we really change that much? Apple pie, and the ideas it stands for, has found a way to survive as an American symbol. Although we may now buy our apple pie from the grocery store, rather than baking it from scratch, apple pie still finds a way to encompass all of the values it had in the past. We still find the words “homemade” printed on the apple pie box we buy from the store. We still desire those values associated with the apple pie. It is almost as if by eating a slice of apple pie, we are connected to a time when those American values were abundant. Some people even buy apple pie scented candles to make their homes smell like the delicious food, as if the smell alone will give the illusion that the values associated with apple pie are a part of that home. “Apple pie values” have managed to survive our societal changes leading us to wonder if these changes considerable as they seem.

Christina Farrell

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