Apples. Apples. Shiny, round, red (iconically) or green, apples. Why am I starting this A-Z challenge with something as benign as apples? Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else (I’m sure you all have a hundred things for the letter A). However, I decided to go with Apples. Why? Because A is for Apple.
As I started thinking about apples, I realized how iconic they really were. In fact, it is such a simple and ordinary icon, that I didn’t ever consider it one until now. Think on this:
Why is it “as American as apple pie”? Aren’t cherries American? What about a fine steak? How about a blueberry pie or a raspberry cheesecake? Why can’t it be as American as chocolate cake? Or, I know, “as American as fried chicken.” Why have we chosen the apple to symbolize America? I honestly don’t know the answer to these questions. But I do know that in its simple way the apple, or apple pie specifically, has become a symbol of America, of the American life, maybe even the American dream.
These same questions really must be asked about the fact that it’s an apple that keeps the doctor away. Oh, I know that the apple is simply symbolic of healthy eating. The apple is symbolic of a lot (I will touch on this again shortly). But WHY is the apple the symbol we have chosen? There are many healthy items that will keep the doctor away: oats, bananas, strawberries, yogurt, ect. But no, it’s the apple. The apple is the symbol of health and happiness.
Now this one is my favorite, Snow White and the apple. I think this is a favorite simply because I LOVE fairy tales. But in this story, and this is a point we will hit on later, the apple has become a symbol of forbidden fruit. Perhaps I am writing these backwards as I’m sure Snow White stole this from the biblical story of the ultimate forbidden fruit. But isn’t it a little ironic that the historic symbol of the forbidden fruit is America’s symbol of health and life and prosperity? Hmmm . . . .
Then we have the Golden, sadly not red, apple which started the Trojan war. Oh Paris. Poor poor Paris. 3 goddess wanted the golden apple inscribed “for the fairest” (never ever get involved in an argument between 3 goddesses; hell, don’t even involve yourself in an argument between 3 women). Paris wanted the fair Helen as his wife, and since that was Aphrodite’s gift should he choose her, the golden apple was given to Aphrodite and in short order, the Trojan War occurred. Other than our American symbol of the apple, it does not have a positive, happy place in history or mythology.
And last (on my list), but certainly not least, we have Adam and Eve and the apple. Here is where I get to all those points alluded to earlier. Whenever someone talks about the abominable fruit which caused the fall of man from grace, the picture of the apple comes to mind and to canvas. However, in ancient times the “apple” was a term for all forms of foreign fruit, including nuts. In fact, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that the fruit found in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve was an apple. The geography and climate of the supposed location of the Garden of Eden prevents the fruit from being an apple. I have heard it is far more likely to be a pomegranate. Well that is besides the point. The point is, it has always been seen as, thought as, and portrayed as an apple. As a result, the apple has the unfortunate fate of becoming a cursed and forbidden fruit. Therefore, there was never any hope for poor Snow White when her stepmother offered her that dreaded apple.