Here’s an interesting article on the historical signifance of Apple pie and Independence Day by Emily VanSchmus for Better Homes & Gardens.
A recipe for apple pie was included in the very first American cookbook in 1796.
For many of us, there’s nothing more American than eating a slice of homemade apple pie while watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July. But have you ever wondered why we associate the fruit-filled pastry with the birth of our country? It turns out, apple pie was one of the first desserts to be made in America, and there’s a pretty interesting story about why the colonists began baking it. The patriotic origins of the classic dessert date back to the 1600s, when the colonists first arrived in America, long before the first Independence Day.
What Makes Apple Pie So American?
The pilgrims originally came to America to gain independence from Britain, and so they began distancing themselves from British culture in every aspect of their lives. Rather than keep making traditional English desserts (like scones and bread pudding), they began making a new kind of treat introduced to them by Dutch immigrants in the 1700s. Dutch and German immigrants taught them how to make a flaky, buttery crust, which the colonists then filled with sliced apples and spices, creating the iconic American dessert we enjoy today.
While this certainly wasn’t the first time an apple pie was baked, it was likely the first time any of the colonists had tried the dessert. And, a recipe for apple pie was included in the first known American cookbook titled American Cookery, which was published in 1796, a few years after America had won its independence.
So, apple pie is associated with the Fourth of July because the holiday is about celebrating independence from Britain, and baking apple pie carried a similar meaning for early colonists.
Why We Say “As American as Apple Pie”
You’ve likely heard the phrase “as American as apple pie,” which comes from the folktale about Johnny Appleseed (who was a real person!). The phrase was first used in the early 1800s but didn’t become widely known until World War II, when it became common for soldiers to say “for mom and apple pie” when speaking to journalists about why they had enlisted. From then on, the phrase “as American as apple pie” has been used for anything deemed patriotic.
This year, celebrate Independence Day by chopping up some Granny Smiths and folding them into a perfectly flaky old-fashioned apple pie.