You must have heard the expression, “as American as an apple pie,” at some point in life, haven’t you? This saying has been around for decades now and we can easily trace it as back as 1851. Those were the times when it was used as a symbol of American patriotism just like beer, baseball and Rock N’ Roll.
It still is an unofficial symbol of the US and the Americans regard this dessert as one of their signature comfort foods. But in a region that doesn’t even grow apples natively, nor do pies originate from, how did a baked meal called apple pie end up being embedded deep in American identity? Let’s find out more about the history of American Apple Pie.
Apple Pie & It’s English Origins
Apple pie is one of the fruit pies with apple as its main central ingredient. It originated in 14th century medieval England during the time of Chaucer, the legendary English poet of the Middle Ages. Whipped cream, cheddar cheese or ice cream often complement the apple pie when served.
It has a dual crust that contains pastry below and above the central filling, dividing the pie into two crusts with the upper one mostly being crosswise strips.
Apple Pie’s history in American Culture
Thousands of years before the first Pilgrims had set sail for the New World, European and Asian civilizations had already added apples into their traditional cuisines and ingredients. The earlies mentions of Apples in history is during the time of Alexander the Great in 328 BCE.
The savory pies became an important component of the English food scene by the 14th century. During the next century, the Dutch bakers transformed the crust-less English Apple Pie into a lattice-styled crisscrossed styled pastry, in the shape we see them today.
Another century later, apple pies were all over Europe in France, Italy, and Germany etc. According to food history and botanists, only one apple species, called crabapple, was native to all of North America. People usually confuse the advent of apple in America with this species but that’s wrong since crabapple was inedible and sour.
The real edible and sweet apples made their way into America via overseas trade and shipping during the mid-17th century. The first mention of apple pies in American literature or historical records is in the Allen Metcalf book, “America in So Many Words: Words that have Shaped America.”
With British, Swedish and Dutch immigrants bringing these recipes all the way from their home countries, apple pie soon became a common sight in America. These migrant settlers of the new American lands, called the apple pie a “uniquely American” food instead of choosing to note its actual origins.
During the onset of the 20th century, Apple pies ended up becoming an integral part of the American cultural and culinary repertoire, well-established in the heart of every American household. By the early 1920s, apple pies started becoming part of the popular culture of that time: books.
This cemented its status as a national symbol of American unity and to this day, the American Apple Pie continues to be an element that reminds every U.S. citizen of a common American identity.