The Truth About Apples
By Patrick /F. Cannon
The descendants of Jebidiah Mott have been misleading the American public with the fiction that their forebearer was responsible for the current popularity of the Apple. Applesauce, I say! While Mott undoubtably had something to do with the ascent of the noble fruit, he was very far from the first to call attention to its many salubrious benefits. As I have done so often in the past, I will now set the record straight.
I’m afraid that the legendary Johnny Appleseed has no place in its history, either, despite the visual appeal of a jolly man strolling the country casting apple seeds right and left. First of all, his real name was Horace Appleknocker, and he apparently never left his home in Dismal Seepage, West Virginia. The Appleseed myth was started by Horace Greeley, which explains a lot.
No, the popularity of the ubiquitous fruit is owed to none other than Isaac Newton. While not widely known, Apple trees were long considered to be noxious weeds. In the Fall of the year, their fruit would fall upon the ground. In the England of those days, the forests were full of wild boars. The hairy porcines would gorge themselves upon the fruit. The poor serfs noticed this and soon began to feed the leftovers to their domesticated pigs. On market days, they would sell the butchered pork, including the bacon – thus began the rage for Applewood smoked bacon, which persists to our own day.
Back to Newton. It seems that one day in 1672, he was travelling from Cambridge to London. He was riding his favorite horse, Gravitas. A kindly man, the learned scientist decided to stop near the village of Snipping Gambrel to rest his horse. He found a likely pasture with a bubbling brook, so that his trusty steed could both eat and drink. For himself, he had providentially packed a lunch consisting of a pickled kidney sandwich, a lump of salt beef and a flagon of beer. After eating and drinking hearty, he became drowsy and lay under a nearby tree to nap.
Well, as we now know, it was an Apple tree. As Newton slept, suddenly a newly ripe and heavy Apple fell upon his noggin. Startled, the eminent scientist found the offending fruit. Hefting it in his hand, he brought it close to his nose and noticed that it had a pleasing smell, as well as an attractive rosy glow. Knowing that it had only ever been thought suitable as feed for pigs, nevertheless his thirst for scientific inquiry led him to take a tentative bite. “Forsooth,” he exclaimed, “the despised fruit is both juicy and sweet!”
Before continuing his journey, he filled his saddle bags with as many Apples as they could contain. As luck would have it, he was due to give a talk to the Royal Society that very evening. Instead of his original subject – The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius – he regaled his fellow societors with his amazing discovery that the humble weed actually produced yummy fruit. Samples were passed around to universal acclaim. As an aside, Newton did mention that he was puzzled by the fact that the Apple had fallen directly on his head, instead of up or sideways.
By 1705, the Apple craze was at its height. Not only were people eating raw fruit, but were mashing it into cider and cooking it into jellies, jams, sauce, butter fritters, pies and pasties. Is it any wonder then, that Queen Anne recognized Newton’s discovery by bestowing a knighthood upon him? Thereafter Sir Isaac often ascribed his long life to eating at least one Apple a day. You would be wise to do the same. As for me, I prefer the Golden Delicious.
(Next week – Broccoli explained.)
Copyright 2020, Patrick F. Cannon