Great question! Everyone loves apple pie – apples, gooey sugar filling, crust. What’s not to love? The earliest written mention of apple pie dates back to the Middle Ages in England, around 1380 to be exact. Fun fact: many of the first pie recipes did not include sugar. Granted, today we live in a modern world where people pour pixie sticks on their donuts and drink Hi-C like water, but it wasn’t always that way. Back in the olden days, cane sugar was a rare (and expensive) commodity – as were many of the other spices commonly found in conventional apple pie. Cinnamon, cloves and other pricey ingredients usually had to be imported from eastern and North African countries. The average working stiff had to make do with the juice of the apples and other added fruits like pears or figs to sweeten the deal. Granted, these people had an average lifespan of about 60 years and their teeth were falling out for other reasons…but at least they weren’t keeling over from hyperglycemic shock or boring fructose holes in their molars.
At any rate, from England the pie traveled to North America with the colonists. It became a huge success when settlers realized that the New World was a good climate for apple farming, and the versatility of apple pie has made it a go-to easy dessert for many generations of Americans. In the 1930s, Ritz Cracker even tried to popularize a cheap version of apple pie crust made out of cracker crumbs. Uh, cool! Nowadays there’s no wrong way to eat apple pie – plain, a la mode, with a slice of cheddar cheese, or as a tart or crumble. Needless to say, we should all be very thankful that our national dessert found its way from a humble medieval beginning all the way to our dining room plates.