The early 19th century was a crazy time in America, man.  The revolution was recently over and a lot of people were kind of thinking that they just needed more room to spread out.  There was plenty of land to the West, but the trouble was that there just wasn't any booze out there.  Enter John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed.  Ol' Johnny knew what the people needed, and that was apples.

That may seem like a slight non sequitur, but stick with me, I promise it all makes sense at the end.  First I have to tell you a bit about apples and how they grow.  If you've ever planted a seed in your life, you are probably aware that it grows into a little, baby version of the plant that the seed came from.  If you allow it to keep growing (and you remember to water it or whatever), it usually becomes pretty much the spitting image of the parent plant, right down to producing its own little seeds.  Apples, though, are different and weird.  If you took a seed from the next Red Delicious (or Macintosh or Granny Smith or Crispin or whatever apples you like) you ate and planted it in the ground, it would still grow into an apple tree, but it would not produce anything even remotely resembling a Red Delicious.  And it probably wouldn't even produce anything that remotely resembled food.  What it would produce, though, in copious amounts, would be little, crabapple-like fruits that would be not very tasty to eat but extremely tasty to turn into hard cider or applejack.


Need to try this asafp.

Short sidenote:  Applejack, if you don't know, was traditionally made by leaving hard cider out to freeze, and then periodically removing the ice, thereby increasing the alcohol content of the remaining liquid.  The lengths people will go to get a buzz, you guys.  I'd like to also take this opportunity to briefly tell you about how much I love hard cider.  Hard cider (or just cider to non-Americans) is one of the most delicious beverages in the known universe.  Pro tip: if you don't like beer and all your friends make fun of you all the time, try a cider next time you're out at the bar.  It's a lot like beer, but without all the parts that you probably hate about beer.  (Let me be clear that I actually love beer, I just also love cider.  More.)


Pioneers in early America were often required to plant orchards of apples or pears to uphold their claims to land, so Johnny Appleseed would plant a nursery of trees, tend it for a while, and then sell it to a settler.  Which was genius, really.  And the big reason that cider was so popular was that, in addition to being delightful, it was much safer to drink than the water at the time.  (Because I guess no one had really discovered the whole thing where you could just boil the water.  Or whatever.)

Johnny became a legend in his own lifetime which is why today is even a thing.  Though John Chapman's birthday, September 26th, is sometimes cited as Johnny Appleseed Day, it's celebrated today, March 11th, in most places because it's nearer to planting season.  Apple trees in today's orchards are almost all genetic clones of each other that have been grafted in order to produce apples of uniform color, size, and taste.  That is, every single Red Delicious tree in the entire world is actually just a clone of the first tree that happened to produce those specific fruits.  Crazy, right?

Although cider isn't drunk with the (totally baller) regularity that it used to enjoy, you can still get tons of great cider at most watering holes, and let me just tell you that they are amazing.  And that's why Johnny Appleseed is still a part of the collective American consciousness.  That and the fact that he was one of the earliest champions of conservation and junk.  He was like a drunken, roving John Muir.  Also he was a Swedenborgian, which is mostly just some crazy cultish religion but it has a super crazy name because its founder was named Emanuel Swedenborg.

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So, what do you think?