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Since the dawn of mankind, we’ve been kinda obsessed with apples. For tens of thousands of years apples have been a large part of our diets and our cultures. Blamed for the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, credited as the source of immortality by the Norse Gods, reproved as the cause of the Trojan war, and an all around great way to get drunk in America since the settlement of Jamestown; as it turns out, apples and people go together like, well, apple butter and smearcase for instance.
Apples, A Brief History
Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Yeah, if that name were Apple Pie. Apples are a member of the rose family. DNA analysis shows that apples originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, where the great ancestor of today’s domesticated apple still grows. How we went from that sour, practically inedible apple to the shiny Red Delicious we know so well is a long history of finely tuned cultivation and cultural impact. Apples express extreme heterozygosity, in short, the apples grown from a seedling won't be anything like its parents. Reproducing a particular variety of apple requires a process called grafting.
Apples Today and PA Agriculture
The industrial revolution and the steam engine effectively ended the Golden Age of Pomology. Inexpensive shipping methods and mechanical refrigeration made it possible for orchards to distribute year round. Population growth and the emergence of suburbs brought an end to home orchards. In less than 100 years America went from 14,000 known varieties of apples to about 2,500 varieties grown in the US and less than 100 grown commercially.
The National Apple Festival, and Where to Pick a Peck!
Pennsylvania is host of The National Apple Festival , which takes place in Arendtsville every year during the first two weekends in October. The festival began as an “Apple Harvest Holiday” in 1961 and has since grown to a two weekend event that has been spotlighted by National Geographic Traveler as one of their “best fall trips”.
Written and Researched By: Victoria Buckwash