The (Un) Kid-Friendly Truth About Johnny Appleseed
Disney has mislead us once again, this time about Johnny Appleseed. The education system failed to inform us of the truth. Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) didn’t grow apples for eating but for making booze. Hard apple cider, AKA the devil’s drink, to be exact. 9-year-olds everywhere are eating apples thinking about how they are the exact same ones Mr. Appleseed grew. They are living a lie.
Johnny Appleseed was a savvy business man trying to make money by planting orchards in the Northwest’s expanding frontier. He wasn’t exactly the barefoot, goofy character who gives apples to all of his neighbors. Most of the apples he grew were inedible and pretty sour.
However, settlers didn’t care about eating apples; they just wanted more booze.
Hard apple cider is delicious. I’m looking at you, Angry Orchard! A lot of people on the frontier drank this in place of wine, beer, water, tea and coffee. I would also do this if I had a higher alcohol tolerance and did not have to be a functioning member of society.
Howard Means, author of Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story, describes life on the frontier as “an alcoholic haze.” Transplanted New Englanders on the frontier drank a reported 10.52 ounces of hard cider per day (for comparison, the average American today drinks 20 ounces of water a day).
“Hard cider,” Means writes, “was as much a part of the dining table as meat or bread.” My kind of people.
Do you feel a bit betrayed? I apologize, I am only the messenger. Hopefully you can find comfort in the fact that like the caricature that we have today, Chapman really did carry a tote a bag full of apple seeds that he hand planted. At least you have that to hang onto.
Marnie Slater is a freelance writer for Weekend Collective and performs stand up comedy in Kansas City. Follow her @marnieslaterkc for upcoming gigs and a whole lot of shenanigans.