Talking of Apples…
Did you ever wonder how many apples are eaten around the world every day? What about which countries consume the most apples? Or how many apple trees get planted every year? Those could be some interesting statistics for some. But what about asking yourself about the apple itself. Why are apples so famous? And where does that fame comes from?
I’ve been resting with this idea of an article for more than two years, but I never took the initiative to start thinking and writing. Now it’s about time to talk about apples and try to answer some of those questions.
Why an apple? Or has it happened by chance? What ideas come associated with the act of eating an apple? How is it connected with us — humans? Is it some sort of ego? The apple ego?
Apple in facts
Aeppel is the Old English term from which the word apple derived. But the fruit itself is far more ancient. Archeologists found evidence that apples have been eaten since 6,500 B.C. Besides this archeological evidence, the only documentation of its earliest variety dates around 5,800 years later. It’s the Lady apple, that was documented in early Rome, approximately around 700 B.C., but the first reference to the name was only found during the French Renaissance in 1628.
If that sounds too old, just know that there are more than 7500 varieties of apple around the world, and about 2500 are grown in the U.S. — the largest producer after China — in all 50 states. Although only 36 states commercialize apples. Poland takes third place in production.
About apple trees, which science is called pomology, they belong to the rose family of plants, which also includes plums, cherries, almonds, and pears. On average, an apple tree can produce about 840 pounds of fruit in its life span. That, on average medium-sized apples, means approximately 2255. Just so you know, it would make around 63 gallons of apple cider.
Enough of numbers, but before proceeding, do you know why apples float? Because they are 25% air.
The most popular fruit in the world would be tomatoes, but because they tend to slip to the vegetable side, I’ll just assume that banana takes the lead. Because, according to the statistics, banana assumes the top, but our apple doesn’t roll much further, staying around the third place (still not counting tomato).
Why not talk about bananas then?
Because there’s not half the same attraction towards bananas. Sure you can eat bananas all day, but it’s uniquely trivialized. A banana is a banana. But you prefer an apple pie to a banana pie. Steve Jobs decided that Apple was fit for what would become a technology giant when Banana was unimaginable. You can eat a banana in many situations, but biting an apple immediately makes you feel healthy. Whereas around a banana you find some kind of mocking atmosphere, around the apple you can find something more mystical.
And then, the fact that the apple is not on the top of the list doesn’t make it less popular, and the explanation is quite simple. Apples don’t reach the entire world in the same way that bananas do. There are still a lot of countries that don’t plant and rarely import apples. But for those that do, the apple is likely the most popular fruit. Apple is the most consumed fruit per capita in the United States. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, that means around 16 pounds in fresh apples and 28 pounds in processed.
But why is apple one of the most consumed and most popular fruits? Are they that tasty? I do find apples tasty, and I eat a lot of them. But what if there is something more? I think there is.
More than a fruit?
So, Steve Jobs chose an apple as a name and a logo for his company. There are some theories about the origin of his inspiration, but according to Steve Wozniak — Apple co-founder — the reason is simple. It seems that Steve Jobs was coming from an apple farm (“apple orchard”) and he found the name to be “fun, spirited and not intimidating.” Apparently, he was also on a fruitarian diet and he liked fruit.
There are other theories to explain the name and the logo. Some say the name was also chosen for starting with an A, and that would make Apple appear near the front of the Phone Book, and even — confirmed by Jobs himself — because of some rivalry with his former employee, Atari. The logo — a bitten apple — is also speculated to have come from other sources of inspiration — also speculations. For instance, the idea that Alan Touring died after biting an apple poisoned with cyanide. These might have had some influence.
Furthermore, some say that the name was inspired by the Apple Corps — founded by The Beatles — because he was a big fan of the band. It’s possible that this also had some influence, and for that fact alone, it’s curious how the Beatles decided to choose the apple to name their company. But despite any of these theories, apple was the chosen fruit. It was evident that these people saw something appealing in the fruit, even if they were not aware of it.
But even long before Steve Jobs or The Beatles existed, there’s the story of Adam and Even. What is for some assumed as the true story of the human creation, may have raised the image of the apple up to a fame pedestal. I say this because many people will unconsciously remember it as the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve were not supposed to eat. But also know that they ate it, and after their transgression, they ended up reaching a form of enlightenment. So there is something special about the apple. A divine fruit of creation that portrays a unique symbolism, present in many people.
Even if you don’t want anything to do with this side of human creation, it’s popularity is undeniable, and it might still have some influence on you. But even if it doesn’t, the way that this mystical aura reached others had to inevitably touch everyone, at least in the sense that you are influenced by the standards of a society. And besides this creation myth, there’s a lot of symbolic power for the apple in other stories.
According to the legend, the great scientist Isaac Newton was inspired to formulate the Gravitation Theory, by chance, after watching an apple fall from a tree while drinking his tea. Again a maybe-not-so-simple apple might have been the trigger for one of the greatest discoveries. In cartoons, when some character is being kidnapped, there’s frequently an apple serving as a gag. In Animal Farm, apples are an important symbol. Then, we all know the fairy tale of Snow White and how a witch tried to kill her with a poisoned apple. Why would the witch choose an apple? Maybe because the apple is indeed the perfect choice.
But even if these are just myths and child stories, they still carry an important symbolism, and it’s undeniable that the fruit became more magical because of that. Maybe all these stories took a while to finally start resonating and for the apple to become famous. And maybe we have only recently reached a certain excitement around the fruit. But if it’s excitement, it’s low-key, and apples have not reached popularity for the first time in history.
It appears that the first known form of popularity around the fruit — still a wild fruit — started in Kazakhstan and China, long before starting to spread around the world. Gradually it spread around Oriental Asia and the Middle East, and only later to Europe and America. As for its mythicism, Greek scriptures were found, representing the apple as a symbol of beauty and love. In Greek mythology, one of Heracles’ Twelve Labors was to pluck golden apples from the Tree of Life in the Garden of the Hesperides. Also, Aphrodite considered it as a sacred fruit.
So, maybe the apple was always popular in particular ways and different forms of adoration for the fruit existed at different ages. But if in recent times its mythicism was dormant, it seems that now is growing significant again. Maybe not like ancient Greece, but in terms of our current society, and it looks that we got ready to resurrect its power in a kind of Symbiotic relationship. Because we all feed the apple with this idea of mysticism while being fed by it, and that led to the current popularity we see around the fruit.
And today the numbers might show that popularity more clearly, but not only. As you’ve seen, it became evident by the way that some people chose an apple to represent their businesses. But even more in the way that the famous proverb — “an apple by day keeps a doctor away” — echoes in our heads, even though there’s no reliable scientific evidence about it. And at last, in the way that the apple image became associated with fitness and nutrition.
It’s interesting how apples are a simple fruit, and yet, they are more than that. It appears that they carry a powerful, undying mythicism around them. They inspired important changes around history, but if there’s something special about it, it’s not for that moment alone. Everything summed up to raise the apple to higher grounds. And although it might have gotten suppressed in some moment in history, it always seems to come back in full power, and today we are likely to experience one of its returns.
I hope you don’t blame me if you’re now feeling like eating an apple, but if you’re like me, you can’t help but see the fruit through magical lenses now. And why not? I would say it’s the way we find a sense of eternal power in the fruit, but maybe apples are eternally special by themselves. You can only imagine the apple as a powerful fruit, which power will last forever, and that only makes it more irresistible.
Did Snow White eat the apple because she was looking for a way to become fit? I guess not, but you are lying if you say you never felt healthy after eating an apple. Now I expect you to feel something else.