Neatolicious Fun Facts: Apple

Hello, everybody! After writing about 100 articles for Neatorama in the past couple of years, I can't bear to write another Top 10 article - at least for a while (other Neatorama authors undoubtedly will pick up the slack). So, please let me try something new. In what I hope will be a regular feature, I'm going to take a regular object and try find the neatest nuggets of knowledge about it.

Let's start with the letter A ... say, apple. So without any further ado, here is Neatolicious Fun Facts: Apple.

1. The Wild Ancestor of All Apples: Malus sieversii

Today, there are some 7,500 different cultivars of apples that are derived from a single wild ancestor from Central Asia: Malus sieversii. In fact, that species still grows in the mountains of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Xinjiang, China.

Photo: Malus sieversii, as collected by the 1996 Kazakhstan Apple Collection Mission of the USDA Agricultural Research Service

2. Apple: The Forbidden Fruit?

From The Fall of Man by Titian (c. 1570)

In the Bible, God forbids Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When they eat the fruit anyway, Adam and Even are expelled from the Garden of Eden.

But why apple? The Book of Genesis never mentioned the fruit as apple - in fact, early interpretations pointed to fig, grapes, citron (a lemonlike fruit), carob, and pomegranate (the most likely culprit), but never apple.

The bad rap for apple began when Christians translated the Bible into Latin. Malus, the Latin word for bad or evil is very similar to the word for apple (malum). It seems like the assignation of apple as the forbidden fruit was the result of a pun. Source

3. "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away"

The first version of the proverb is actually from Pembrokeshire, Wales. The first recorded use was in the February 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine: "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread." (Source)

It became popular, however, when fruit specialist J.T. Stinson used it in his speech at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

Apples do have a lot of good nutrients and pythochemicals that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and even tooth decay. But don't eat the seeds; they are mildly poisonous.

4. The Big Apple

Why is New York City called The Big Apple? Parking ticket judge by day and amateur etymologist by night Barry Popik tracked down the first use of the term "The Big Apple" back to the 1920s by journalist John J. Fitz Gerald, a horse racing reporter for the New York Morning Telegraph.

Fitz Gerald overheard stable hands in New Orleans racetrack talk about the "Big Apple" racing circuit, meaning "the big time" where a lot of money could be won (Horses love apples, by the way). He liked the term, and wrote a column called "Around the Big Apple" on February 18, 1924:

The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There's only one Big Apple. That's New York. (Source)

5. Bobbing for Apples

The game bobbing for apples comes from Celtic festival of Samhain, the precursor of Halloween. As apple is associated with love or fertility, the winner of the game - the person who catch an apple with his or her teeth first - is supposed to be the first to marry. (Photo: calebdzahnd [Flickr])

On February 19, 2008, Ahrita Furman of Brooklyn, New York - who has set 216 official Guinness records - set the world record for bobbing for apples: He bobbed 33 apples in a minute.

Oh, and remember that tradition of throwing rice at weddings? Well, that came from the tradition of throwing apples at newlyweds (yikes!)

6. Record-Breaking Apples

In 2005, Chisato Iwasaki of Hirosaki City, Japan, grew the world's heaviest apple. At 4 lb 1 oz (1.849 kg), it's the size of a small pumpkin!

The world's longest single continuous apple peel was created in 1976 by Kathy Wafler Madison at the tender age of 16. It measured 172 feet, 4 inches long. Kathy grew up to run her own apple tree nursery!

7. Newton's Apple

Legend has it that Isaac Newton was inspired to formulate his theory of universal gravitation when an apple fell on his head. Though that was apocryphal, the part that the physicist was inspired by the apple was actually real. Newton himself wrote that he witnessed the falling apple while staring out the window of his house at Woolsthorpe Manor.

Purported offspring of the Newton’s Apple Tree in Woolsthorpe Manor (Image Source: Mathematical Association of America)

What happened to the apple tree? Various places claim that they have the tree. The King's School in Grantham claims that they bought the tree, uprooted it and transported it to the headmaster's garden. The staff of Woolsthorpe Manor, of course, disagreed: they claim that the tree is still present in their garden. Trinity College in Cambridge claimed that they have a descendant of the original tree growing outside the room Newton lived when he studied there.

Oh, and what kind of apple was it? It's a green cooking apple called the Flower of Kent: a pear-shaped, mealy, and generally of poor quality of an apple by today's standard.

See also: Neatorama's 10 Strange Facts About Newton

8. How Did Apple the Computer Company Get Its Name?

Steve Jobs worked summer jobs at an apple farm and liked the Beatles' record label, Apple. So, when he and Steve Wozniak was trying to figure out a name for their new computer company, they decided that if they couldn't think of a better name, they'd name it Apple. Apparently, they couldn't! (Source)

... and talking about Newton, would you know it that Apple's first logo was of Sir Isaac sitting underneath an apple tree?

See also: Neatorama's Evolution of Tech Logos

Do you know more apple fun facts? Please add them to the comment ... and while you're at it, what should we do for "B"?

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