Dietribes: McIntosh Apples

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Apples are ubiquitous in our culture, especially in legend and lore "“ from Isaac Newton to William Tell, Johnny Appleseed to Snow White, Greek mythology to the forbidden fruit of the Bible. Commercially, according to the U.S. Apple Association, apples are grown in every state, and the largest U.S. apple crop on record (1998) yielded 277.3 million cartons. But this week we're focusing specifically on the McIntosh apple, which has its own claims to apple-fame.

"¢ The original McIntosh red apple came from Dundas County, Ontario (apples in general likely originated around Kazakhstan and China, and first brought to North America with settlers in the early 1600s). According to the book The Dictionary of Food and Drink, a plaque in Dundas County reads, "The original McIntosh red apple tree stood 20 rods North of this spot. It was one of a number of seedlings taken from the borderof the clearings and transplanted by John McIntosh in the Year 1796." Learn more about John McIntosh from another plaque here.

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"¢ When anyone says "McIntosh apple" to me, I immediately think of the big grey box with 3 programs and a total of 16 MB of RAM that I used in my formative years. Jef Raskin, an early Apple employee, is credited with naming the Macintosh computer after his favorite food, but changed the spelling due to copyright.

This famous commercial for the Apple Macintosh aired during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, and was directed by Ridley Scott.

raincoat.jpg"¢ The McIntosh also lends its name to the rubber raincoat first developed in 1894 by Scottish inventor Charles Macintosh, who spread rubber onto cotton. The "mack," still manufactured today, is mentioned in the Beatles song Penny Lane: "And the banker never wears a mack"¦In the pouring rain, very strange."

"¢ And here's a lil' cold war joke, from the Oxford English Dictionary entry for McIntosh apples:

MRS. L. B. JOHNSON White House Diary 15 Jan. (1970): 'What are your best brands [of apple]?' asked Gromyko. Without hesitation and with honesty General McNaughton replied, 'Our best brands are Northern Spies and McIntosh Reds.'"

(For those who didn't chuckle and need help with their Cold War who's-who, go here for Gromyko and here for McNaughton.)

"¢ According to folksy wisdom, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." I've followed that for 23 years with excellent results. Apples can be canned, juiced, fermented, put into pies, and so much more. How do you prefer to get your apple helpings? What's your favorite apple recipe?

[Previous Dietribes: Strawberries, Macaroni & Cheese]

'Dietribes' appears every Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

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February 13, 2008 - 7:11am
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