Apple pie is seen as being very American. Just how American? Well, there is not one but two National Apple Pie Days in a year. And it’s almost a certainty you’ve heard the phrase “as American as apple pie.” How ironic it is, then, that apple pies didn’t even originate in the United States, nor did apples!
Apples came from Asia, and their seeds and cuttings were brought to the Americas by Europeans during colonial times. Prior to this, only crab apples were grown in the Americas. The first apples brought to the Western Hemisphere were tart and were used for making cider. It wasn’t until around 1800 when apples better suited for pies—with a higher acidity and crispness—began being grown in the United States. It was also around this time that Johnny Appleseed began traveling the country and helping solidify the association of the apple with America.
The earliest record of the phrase “American as apple pie” dates to 1924, when it appeared in an advertisement in the Gettysburg Times. The association between apple pie and America became inextricable by World War II when American soldiers would tell journalists they were fighting for “mom and apple pie.” This eventually led to the phrase “As American as mom and apple pie.” It became a prevalent saying in the United States during the Postwar years.