quality posts: 16 Private Messages WootBot


If the Plymouth Pilgrims could see the orgy of overeating and megastore-shopping that their descendants have made of their holiday, I think we can all agree: they would feel nothing but pride. But how much do we really know about our November carb carnival? Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame, talks turkey about the Thanksgiving misinformation we’ve been swallowing all these years.

The Debunker: How American Is Apple Pie?

More pie is eaten in America on Thanksgiving than on any other holiday. Pumpkin pie, which was eaten at the second Plymouth Thanksgiving feast in 1623, is the number one choice nationwide, with 44% of respondents in a 2012 poll choosing it as their holiday favorite. Apple pie, at 22 %, was a distant second, but it’s the dessert most inseparably connected with other American ideals, like Mom and baseball. Just how American is apple pie?

Historically, not so much. The English were eating apple pie as far back as 1390, according to a cookbook in scroll form produced by the chefs of King Richard II. (But since sugar wasn’t widely available in Europe at the time, the recipe doesn’t use any. Instead: saffron! And, even worse, raisins.) Just a century later, the Dutch were making apple pies almost identical to our modern recipes, even down to the lattice crust.

Apple pie didn’t become a distinctly American symbol until much later—around the end of the 19th century, in fact. The expression “as American as apple pie” is attested back to 1921, but didn’t take off until World War II, when U.S. troops routinely said they were fighting for Mom and apple pie. Earlier Americans, like the Mayflower pilgrims, never ate apple pie. Why? Because all the apple trees in the New World were sour crab apples, and apples only caught on here once fruit trees—and bumblebees to pollinate them—were introduced from Europe. But I guess there’s no reason why a nation of immigrants shouldn’t embrace a foreign dessert as its national dish. After all, motherhood and baseball came over from England as well. Jason Biggs, you have a grateful nation’s permission to go for that pie.

Quick Quiz: The lyrics of Don McLean’s “American Pie” remind us that the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper happened in what month?

Ken Jennings is the author of Because I Said So!, Brainiac, Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

Quality Posts


quality posts: 1 Private Messages bjgleas

But February made me shiver with every paper I’d deliver... for Feb 3, 1959 was the day that music died...


quality posts: 33 Private Messages olcubmaster
bjgleas wrote:But February made me shiver with every paper I’d deliver... for Feb 3, 1959 was the day that music died...

Bad news on the doorstep.

Sugar 'em up and send 'em home


quality posts: 0 Private Messages MandaX

Er, one assumes the people who were already living in North America probably had the whole motherhood thing down pat even before the white folks arrived.

All in all, we'd be best off laying claim to (American-style) football and chocolate-chip cookies.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kentguy

"American Pie" was the name of the plane that crashed.


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dhkendall
kentguy wrote:"American Pie" was the name of the plane that crashed.

Cite? (I see no credible proof for the plane having a name at all.)


quality posts: 0 Private Messages eheller42

I'd prefer to think "American as Apple Pie" is more about tradition than origin.


quality posts: 53 Private Messages aardwolf64
dhkendall wrote:Cite? (I see no credible proof for the plane having a name at all.)

The plane was actually called "N 3794N".




quality posts: 0 Private Messages crif

I think American pie is a name of movie.But As far as " American apple pie" is concern it comes from cookbook produced by the chefs of King Richard II.



quality posts: 9 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

Guest Blogger

February (as in "made me shiver") is correct! Very nice.

I did not mean to imply that only the English mothered their children. In fact, most of the examples I see on Downton Abbey make the English look not-very-maternal at all. The Debunker regrets the error.

How about "as American as jazz and Twizzlers"?