5 Moments When Apples Were a Big Deal in Pop Culture
How ’bout them apples? From Johnny Appleseed to the Big Apple, we share our top five favorite references to our state fruit.
Photograph courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Franz Jüttner (1865–1925): Illustration from Sneewittchen, Scholz' Künstler-Bilderbücher, Mainz 1905
These days, apples of the iPhone variety get far more pop culture love than the fruit. All the more reason, then, to share our favorite, timeless references to the original.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Despite its severely dark overtones, this Brothers Grimm classic is one of the world’s most beloved fairytales. Its most pivotal moment is undoubtedly when a naive Snow White bites into an apple poisoned by the jealous Evil Queen, lulling her into a slumber that can only be reversed with Prince Charming’s kiss.
His real name was John Chapman, but the itinerant nurseryman is better known by his playful moniker. Beginning in the late 18th century, the missionary and conservationist planted apple nurseries across states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. He achieved such fabled status for his appleseed-scattering efforts that it’s often hard to remember Johnny isn’t the stuff of legend, but the hard-working son of a Revolutionary War Minuteman.
Although he left no written account of this storied anecdote, it’s easy to fall for the purported — and a little too neat and clean — tale of how Sir Isaac Newton instantly dreamed up the theory of gravity: while sitting in the garden, out of the blue, an apple fell on his head.
How did the Big Apple become synonymous with New York City? The mysterious origins first point to the 1920s, when apples referred to the big-stake prizes won at the area’s numerous racing courses. Later, jazz musicians started bandying around the term, indicating that New York was the most prestigious spot to land a gig. The nickname was so catchy, the city’s tourism arm built an official visitor-spiking campaign around the term.
One Bad Apple Spoils the Whole Barrel
Not to get all New Agey, but this old-school idiom is a cliche for a reason: all it takes is one negative thought — or one pessimistic person — to destroy a good thing. It also works on a literal level. Storing a moldy apple with, say, a spry pear, will spawn an unwelcome chain reaction of contamination in the fruit basket.