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Saturday, October 12, 2019

From Cornbread to Candy Corn: The History of Your Favorite Fall Treats

A bowl of candy corn on a turquoise wooden table.
5 Second Studio/Shutterstock

There are so many things to love about fall, but for a lot of people, the seasonal dishes top the list. Ever wonder how some of these foods became famously linked to this time of year?

Whether you’re curious who discovered cornbread, or why green bean casserole ever became a classic Thanksgiving dish, the past has the story for you.

Apple Pie

We’ll start things off with the classic fall dish, apple pie. But before we delve too deep, we’ve got a disclaimer for you. Neither apples nor pie crust is native to the U.S. So, how did this sweet treat become a symbol of American pride?

The only apple native to the U.S. is the crabapple, which isn’t the best in pie due to its incredibly sour taste. Hundreds of years ago, a fellow by the name of John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) planted crabapple seeds across thousands of miles. People then harvested the crabapples and made hard cider, but more on that later.

It wasn’t until the early 1600s that the apple seeds that grow into the apples we eat today were shipped overseas.

Wondering where pie dough came from? In Medieval England, crusts were called “coffyns” or “coffins” due to their thick durability and use for cooking savory foods for long periods. That’s not very appealing.

According to Emily Upton from Today I Found Out, the first recorded apple pie recipe dates back to 1300s England. That recipe, however, doesn’t resemble the apple pie we all love today. A version of the dessert we eat didn’t become available until hundreds of years after all the ingredients, like wheat, lard, sugar, and spices, made their way to the U.S.

In the early 1900s, the phrase “As American as apple pie” appeared in print, and by World War II, soldiers often told journalists they were fighting “for mom and apple pie.”

So, there you have it: a quick history lesson on the components of the sweet dessert that eventually became an American favorite.

Corn Bread

A mortar and pestle containing ground corn meal on a counter.

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