It’s apple harvest time in the Okanagan. The orchards are beautiful with ripe apples and the farmers’ markets offer many varieties for sale.
I am fascinated by the way apples have been marketed over the years and the traces of attitudes and beliefs that remain today about apples as a result of this early marketing.
Provincial governments and industry organizations actively promoted apple consumption as the number of orchards and production grew. The Federal government also took a visible and active role in the first half of the twentieth century, publishing several recipe and information booklets.
The beauty of a shiny red apple was highlighted in a small federal publication shaped like an apple! The booklet titled Recipe Book for Enjoying Apples is undated but the Honourable James G. Gardiner was Minister of Agriculture at the time and his term of office was from 1935 to 1957. The booklet was likely published in the 1930s or 40s.
Apple Delights: Two Hundred and Nine Apple Recipes by Miss L. Gertrude MacKay was published by the Department of Trade and Commerce in Ottawa, circa 1914.[i] It was dedicated to the patriotic housewives of Canada, a dedication likely motivated by the early days of the First World War. The booklet was 65 pages in length and contained sections on “The Apple as an Article of Food,” photos and descriptions of “Famous Canadian Varieties,” “How to Store Apples for the Winter,” and concluded with a quirky bit of humour in “Romance in an Apple Orchard.”Another feature of this book was that the heading of each page, offered a saying or dictum about buying and eating apples. This might be where the saying “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away” originated! The dicta were clearly addressed to women and can be considered as arguments judged to be convincing of women or “housewives.” I looked closely at the dicta and grouped them into four different categories of reasons to buy and eat apples:
Apples contain salts essential to the body.
Apples hermetically sealed from pathogenic germs.
Every child needs an apple when daddy smokes.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
The right way! More apples, less meat.
An apple each night starves the doctor outright.
Study the food value of the apple.
Apples, the cheapest medicine you can buy.
You cannot afford to be without apples.
Never order apples in less than a bushel quantity.
Economize by buying in considerable quantities.
Use apples and lessen cost of living.
Get With It! Join the Trend.
Join the apple consumers’ league today.
Get the apple habit.
Get a box of apples now.
Apple day is every day.
The apple is the king of fruits.
Why not start the apple habit now?
Let baby play with an apple and get the habit.
Keep your home supplied with good apples.
Coaxing and Encouraging Action
Try a baked apple for breakfast
Oh, you deep apple pie with cream!
One way to keep your husband in good humour.
Try an apple pie as mother used to make it.
Try an apple pudding for your Sunday dinner.
When ordering food supplies, write apples first.
Know the varieties, buy the best, come again.
Recipe booklets and advertisements for apples have all but disappeared although websites now provide much of the information and recipes that used to be contained in booklets. Many of the old messages though are quite ingrained. Apples may not be trendy these days but economy and nutrition are still reasons people reach for apples and apples remain a common part of most people’s diets.
[i] Driver, Elizabeth (2008). Culinary landmarks: A bibliography of Canadian cookbooks, 1825-1949. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.