Apples weren’t originally for eating

By Brandie Piper

Published Sept. 26, 2015 on

The popular phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” can be a reminder to incorporate nutritious fruits into your daily diet as part of a balanced meal, and modern apples are delicious, sweet, and great to toss into sack lunches. But for a long time, apples in North America were bitter and inedible and mainly used to make fermented cider.

So how did the apple become America’s flagship fruit? In honor of Johnny Appleseed Day on Sept. 26, we’ve put together some information about the history of the apple, from bitter to sweet.

Johnny Appleseed
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, apple trees grew in abundance in the United States, thanks in part to John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. He gathered apple seeds and wandered through parts of the Ohio River Valley, planting the seeds for settlers who didn’t want to do the hard work themselves.

According to, Johnny Appleseed planted apple orchards with seed for two reasons. First, cider was a suitable substitute staple for residents in rural areas where water was unclean. Second, one belief of his religion was that the common way to grow apple orchards – called tree grafting – caused the trees to suffer. Grafting involves taking a stem and buds from an apple tree you desire to copy, and putting it into the stock of another tree… [continue reading]

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