By Christine Coppa
October 10, 2019

Apples are good for pie — and trivia!

Fall seems like prime apple time — and it is picking season after all — but thanks to advanced storage techniques, you can buy apples all year long. Still, the apple seems at its best from September to November, when the trees are heavy with fruit, apple orchards are filled with visitors, and apple cider is steaming on the stove.

But that fruit you're holding in your hand is more than just a sweet-tart balance of flavor, water, and fiber. Apples have a long, storied history and crop up in a great deal of American pop culture and folklore.

Here, learn a variety of interesting facts and history about apples so you can share a bit of trivia the next time you're sharing apple slices with a kiddo, family, and friends.

Apple Picking
Photo: ClarkandCompany/Getty Images

1. Apples aren't American.

The apple tree originated in Central Asia. The fruit-bearing trees have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. European colonists brought them to North America. Pilgrims planted the first U.S. apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Even America'a first POTUS took on apple duty: One of George Washington's hobbies was pruning his apple trees.

2. The number of apple varieties might surprise you.

More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States. New moms can reach for Galas because the apple is among the sweetest of its kind, perfect for whipping up homemade applesauce. The Macoun apple is ideal when it comes to entertaining; the bright red skin and juicy white flesh make an attractive cheese board add-on. And try Jonagold apples for holiday baking; it is equal parts tart for a sour kick and sweet, like honey. Most importantly, Jonagolds hold up exceptionally well in the oven so apple pie and stuffing will always be a hit around the table.

3. The age-old apple saying was edited.

The most famous proverb involving apples is, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." But did you know that wasn't the original adage? The catchy jingle was coined in 1913, but it was actually based on a Welsh rhyme approximately 149 years older than that: "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread."

4. The most expensive apple is more than $20 per fruit.

The most expensive apple in the world is the Sekai Ichi at $21 each. Sekai-ichi means "world's number one" in Japanese, and it is a cross between the famous Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples.

So why is it so expensive? First, these apples can grow to be two pounds each. That's a big apple! Sekai-Ichi apples are also washed with honey and branded by hand to ensure they're blemish free. The orchards where they're grown are pollinated by hand with a tiny wand. But you're really paying for quality, according to The growers of Sekai Ichis give their apples tons of TLC.

5. "The Big Apple" has nothing to do with the abundance of apple trees in New York.

New York City is nicknamed "the Big Apple," and they have horse racing to thank for that moniker, not apple trees. According to, the label originated in popular culture with New York City newspaper reporter John Fitz Gerald. Around 1920, Fitz Gerald, who covered race tracks and racing, heard African-American stable hands in New Orleans refer to New York City as "the big apple." At the time, the New York race tracks were considered big-time venues, so the reference was a nod to what a big deal the city was — and Fitz Gerald capitalized on the snazzy nickname and began using it in his newspaper columns.

Apples in a wooden crate
Photo by Meredith
| Credit: Meredith

6. Johnny Appleseed was a real man.

John Chapman, AKA Johnny Appleseed, traveled across the Ohio River Valley and American Midwest. Legend says he was barefoot, wore a tin-pot hat, and carried a sack of apples. Whether that's true or not, the apple hero of American folklore did strategically map out nurseries across parts of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. He also protected them with fences and had neighbors prune the trees. He returned to the orchards yearly to check on his flourishing fruit orchards.

7. Giving apples to teachers was a form of payment.

Did your kiddo ever bring their teacher an apple? Have you ever wondered why cartoon apples end up on back-to-school forms and calendars? The association between apples and schools (and teachers, for that matter) started in the 1700s. Then, governments around the world did not pay for the education of their people. Poor families in Denmark and Sweden gave teachers baskets of apples and potatoes as payment for teaching their children.

8. Astronauts like apples, too.

The first American to orbit the Earth, astronaut John Glenn, carried pureed applesauce in squeezable tubes on his initial space flight. Ham with applesauce was served to Gemini astronauts.

9. Apples get a bad rap.

The apple, referred to as forbidden fruit, first appeared in western Europe in the 12th century. Some researchers suggest that the apple got a bad rap from an unfortunate pun: the Latin malus means both "apple" and "evil." Plus, the forbidden fruit in Genesis is also thought to be an apple, though the Bible's opening chapter does not directly identify the fruit.

10. Apples are for bobbing.

Apples are 25 percent air. That is why they float in water!