Many staples in American cuisine come from abroad. German immigrants brought the modern hamburger with them, and Italians were the first to pair cheese with macaroni. Apple pie – a dish that usually follows the words “American as” – has a reputation for being one of the rare dishes the country can claim to full. But as it turns out, the story of the legendary American dessert is not that simple.
The earliest known recipe for apple pie does not come from America, but from England. It dates back to the late 13th century and lists several fruits as ingredients, including figs, raisins, and pears, and apples. Unlike a modern cake, no sugar was added and it was baked in a “coffin” crust that was meant to contain the filling rather than serving as an edible part of the dish. Although the first preparation, which resembles an apple pie, came from England, the recipe itself wasn̵
At this point in time, apple trees had only been cultivated in Britain for several centuries. An early ancestor of the fruit originally originated millions of years ago in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan and was later grown in Central Asia before spreading around the world. Before Apple Pie could take over America, someone first had to plant the right apple trees in the country. The only apples that were native to North America before British colonialism were crab apples. When colonists arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in the 17th century, they brought with them the Old World seeds and cuttings they needed to make cider and created new varieties of American apples.
American citizens enjoyed apple pie in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it did not immediately achieve its all-American status. The dessert’s transition from British import to American classic may have started during the Civil War. In his book Apple Pie: An American StoryAuthor John T. Edge describes Union and Confederate soldiers searching for apples and searching the flocks and flour bins on farms to bake cakes. The memory of the sweet delicacies in a time of national turbulence could have “fixed the taste of apple pie on the palate of the future generations,” writes Edge.
The patriotic symbolism of the apple pie was fully established in the early 20th century. A 1902 New York Times The article ushered in a new era for the court, calling it “the American synonym for wealth”. The Times may also be responsible for creating the myth that apple pie is an American invention. A 1926 headline read: “The Tourist Apple Pie Chase Is Over: The American Army Abroad Has Failed In Europe To Find The Kind They Make At Home.”
The court’s patriotic popularity continued to grow. A 1928 New York Times Article titled First Lady Lou Henry Hoover’s Homemade Skills “As American As Apple Pie”. A few years later, the battle “for mother and apple pie” became a popular catchphrase among soldiers of the Second World War. During World War II, apple pie was associated with a certain image of family life and the perfect American housewife.
Apple pies may not be 100 percent American in origin, but very few foods are available. Many of the best-known American dishes feature contributions from different cultures and parts of the world. Apple pie – made with Asian apples, Middle Eastern wheat, and a European recipe – is no exception.