Return to Johnny Appleseed (person)

Sorry, but apples suitable for eating have been around since the Roman Empire. In Pliny's time, apples and pears were not only eaten for dessert, but were commonly preserved in honey.

Grafting was already a highly developed art in those days. Pliny claimed that "This part of life has long since reached its summit; everything has been tried". The Romans had discovered or developed 25 different varieties of apple. Cider is actually a much more recent development, probably originating in Biscay around the 10th or 11th Century. (There is some evidence that the ancient Egyptians made cider, and the Romans were aware of this, but did not make or drink cider themselves.)

The true innovation of the "modern apple" varieties that began to be produced in the Twentieth Century is a much-increased yield per tree and a more predictable growing season, not increased sweetness. Modern varieties also tend to look better than the antique apples, which says nothing about their flavour.

In American history, edible apples were apparently unknown to the Native Americans, and were a European contribution. But edible varieties were certainly common from the first days of European settlement in America. The first "modern" variety of apple, the McIntosh Red, was discovered around 1810 (possibly as early as 1796) by John McIntosh.

None of this goes to say that Johnny Appleseed didn't like some hard cider. Most people did in his time. He may or may not have - historically, hard cider has usually been considered a healthy and sin-free drink, so I'm not sure Chapman's taboo on alcohol included hard cider. But whether he did or not, that wasn't the purpose of his plantings. Let's not try to revise the history of agriculture just to make a highly dubious point.

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