the humble apple… with a wild history!
Apples have a rich and varied mythical history, and fascinating origin story... we had barely scratched the surface, they crop up literally everywhere (yes, totally intended) from ancient Greek mythology to Norse folklore... to every single product in our range!
Eris, the Greek goddess of discord famously threw a golden apple inscribed with the words "to the fairest" among the goddesses, leading to the Trojan War… trickster!
The ancient Celtic god of nature, fertility and prosperity, Cernunnos was often shown with a cornucopia and apples symbolising the power of the natural world.
In Norse mythology, apples were believed to provide immortality, and were guarded by the goddess Idun.
The Arabian Nights features a magic apple from Samarkand capable of curing all human diseases… an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
One place the apple never actually got a mention was in the original story of Adam and Eve… their forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil mentions only a ‘fruit’ meaning centuries of debate over what they actually ate… an apricot, banana, figs, lemon, grapefruit? Even pomegranates were blamed, but the apple as Forbidden Fruit seems to have arrived in western Europe by the 12th century. Some scholarly types suggest that this could be because the Latin malus means both ‘apple’ and ‘evil, but art seems to be the main culprit for fixing the idea in popular mythology.
Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti and Dylan Thomas all wrote poems about apples. Caravaggio, Magritte and Titian painted them. The most famous forbidden fruit depiction, the Temptation and Fall, painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel features forbidden figs… however by the time Milton wrote Paradise Lost in the 17th century the forbidden fruit was firmly and definitively an apple!
An apple even produced that ‘Eureka!’ moment for a young Isaac Newton in 1665 (or maybe 1666, depending on what you read) as scientific understanding took another giant leap forward… or so the apocryphal tale goes. In one boink on his clever bonce gravitational theory was formed.
Apples are a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae), and DNA analysis puts their origin story in the mountains of Kazakhstan, where the wild Malus sieversii still grows. That’s the many times great granny of the tasty domesticated Granny Smith apple you’ve sliced up and are currently dipping into a puddle of CHOC SHOT as you read this 😉
Apples are genetically seriously creative, with a characteristic the botanists call ‘extreme heterozygosity’ and each apple seed will be different from it’s parents. Great for evolution, but trickier for apple farmers who want the same crop each time. The only guaranteed way to get the same result is by grafting which is how our modern day apples are propagated.
First human cultivation was c. 6500 BC and our love affair with apples has never since waned. By the 17th century apples were on their way to North America with the colonists, and by the 1800s apple orchards were thriving.
American folk hero Johnny Appleseed wasn’t so linear about his apples, and collected apple seeds by the bushel from Pennsylvania cider mills then ferried them west, establishing orchards along the way and distributing seedlings to settlers far and wide. These wild and random apples were not all great eaters, and many found their way into cider and applejack (apple brandy)… hic, but the Temperance movement came along and rather stopped that particular party, for a while anyway.
There’s LOADS more history we could go into, but we’ll reign it in and simply say apples have cunningly utilised us humans to help their global domination for thousands of years, and they are now one of the most widely grown crops on the planet, with countless varieties available.
We use apple syrup in every single one of our heavenly products so you will find this ancient fruit in each delicious mouthful of Sweet Freedom. That makes the adventurous apple a proper foodie hero to us, pip pip hooray! 😉