Jeen Na
Jeen Na

A Short History of the Apple

Jeen Na
Jeen Na

Photograph by Flickr user Jeen Na.

In September, thoughts turn to different seasonal foods. As the tomato prices start to climb and the garden peters out, we look forward to a winter of turkey, pumpkin, and sweets. But in between, apples are abundant, ripe, and delicious. The apple (Malus domestica) is a member of the rose family. Believe it or not, there are thousands of cultivars of apples. The United States is the second-biggest producer of apples, behind China. Apples originated in central Asia, probably in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, or western China. They were taken to Rome and Greece by Silk Road traders, and came to the rest of Europe with the Romans.

Apples have been documented as food for thousands of years. They are often associated with the Garden of Eden. However, the fruit from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was never named as any particular fruit we would know. The apple became associated with the fruit because the written form of the Latin word malum means both "apple" and "evil." The word malum was used in a fifth-century Latin translation of the Bible, and the apple has been associated with the Garden ever since. Modern scientists point to increased nutrition as the reason human brains developed to the point of self-awareness and the "knowledge of good and evil," but the current theory is that meat was the key food in human brain development. Especially cooked meat

Apples are present in mythology and culture from ancient times. Apples made of gold feature prominently in Greek myths, like the story of Atalanta, who would outrace any suitor until the wise Hippomenes slowed her down with the temptation of golden apples. Aphrodite, Hera and Athena argued over who deserved the golden apple, and set off the Trojan War. Hera owned the Garden of the Hesperides, in which golden apples grew that would confer immortality to those who ate them.

European settlers brought apples, and apple seeds, with them to America. Colonial apple trees were cultivated to produce cider more than for eating the fruit, because apple cider was tastier than water, safer than whiskey, and cheaper than beer. The sour apples of the time were better suited for cider, anyway. The focus on eating apples instead of drinking them is traced to Prohibition, when apple producers were afraid of losing their market and began pushing apples as a delicious and nutritious food.

Johnny Appleseed is a legendary figure in American folklore: the man who walked barefoot through the American frontier, planting apples wherever he went, because he believed in their value and wanted everyone to eat apples. There's truth in the legend, although John Chapman's life was a bit more complicated. Chapman was born in 1774 in Massachusetts. He became an orchardist and nurseryman as an apprentice to a farmer who grew apples. Stricken with a lifelong case of wanderlust, Chapman moved ever westward through the American frontier, preaching the Gospel as a New Church missionary. Meanwhile, he made his living selling young apple trees. He would move deep into the frontier, plant a field of apple seeds, and make his rounds, returning to tend his nurseries every year. When settlers arrived in those areas a few years later, he would sell them apple trees. Chapman did not believe in riding horses, hunting, or eating meat. He lived simply, and made friends with settlers and Indians alike, becoming very popular in his time. Although he never had a permanent home, he was welcome in many homes. Still, he would have had a difficult time selling apple seedlings today. The trees he grew from seed were fairly sour compared to modern eating apples, but it didn't matter because they were mostly made into apple cider. His trees took root and provided quite a variety of apple genes to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Photograph by Flickr user Mary Beth Griffo Rigby.

It has been estimated that during the 19th century, Americans drank an average of 32 gallons of apple cider every year. In the early 20th century, German immigrants made beer popular, taking away some of cider's market. Then in 1919 the Volstead Act outlawed all alcoholic beverages. Many apple orchards went out of business. But there were apples that were good for eating instead of making cider. The Delicious apple was born in 1870 in Jesse Hiatt's orchard in Peru, Iowa. A tree seedling that refused to die eventually bore the apple variety, which Hiatt nursed to maturity and sent samples to the Apple Fair in Louisiana in 1893. Clarence M. Stark, President of Stark Nurseries, dubbed it "delicious" and that's how the apple got its name. Stark bought the propagation rights. The Delicious apple was no good for cider, and too soft and bland for cooking, but it was good to eat raw. With the popularity of the Delicious and other sweet apples, the industry regained its market after Prohibition. Other cultivars were offered for making pies, apple butter, and applesauce.

Photograph by Flickr user Bill Barber.

The apples you see in grocery stores today are clones. Apple trees will reproduce readily in the wild, but there is no simple way of controlling reproduction, and the offspring of any two apple trees may produce fruit that has no resemblance to either parent. So to get a certain kind of fruit, growers will graft limbs from an existing tree onto a younger, sturdier trunk, called the rootstock. The fruit will be the offspring of the grafted branch. Such grafting allows large orchards to deliver a consistent product, but it also limits the variety of apples available in grocery stores. Fortunately, there are people devoted to discovering trees that produce a wider variety, with the aim of resurrecting and preserving those apples by grafting branches to younger rootstock. The future of apples may be a return to the heirloom varieties our ancestors knew -plus varieties never eaten before.

5 Subtle Cues That Can Tell You About Your Date's Financial Personality

Being financially compatible with your partner is important, especially as a relationship grows. Fortunately, there are ways you can learn about your partner’s financial personality in a relationship’s early stages without seeing their bank statement or sitting them down for “the money talk.”

Are they a spender or a saver? Are they cautious with money? These habits can be learned through basic observations or casual questions that don’t feel intrusive. Here are some subtle things that can tell you about your date’s financial personality.


Casual conversations about finance-related topics can be very revealing. Does your date know if their employer matches their 401(k) plan contributions? Do you find their answers to any financial questions a bit vague—even the straightforward ones like “What are the rewards like on your credit card?” This could mean that your partner is a little fuzzy on some of the details of their financial situation.

As your connection grows, money talks are only natural. If your date expresses uncertainty about their monthly budget, it may be an indicator that they are still working on the best way to manage their finances or don’t keep close tabs on their spending habits.


If you notice your partner is always watching business news channels, thumbing through newspapers, or checking share prices on their phone, they are clearly keeping abreast of what’s going on in the financial world. Ideally, this would lead to a well-informed financial personality that gives way to smart investments and overall monetary responsibility.

If you see that your date has an interest in national and global finances, ask them questions about what they’ve learned. The answers will tell you what type of financial mindset to expect from you partner moving forward. You might also learn something new about the world of finance and business!


You may be able to learn a lot about someone’s financial personality just by asking what they usually do for dinner. If your date dines out a lot, it could be an indication that they are willing to spend money on experiences. On the other hand, if they’re eating most of their meals at home or prepping meals for the entire week to cut their food budget, they might be more of a saver.


Money is a source of stress for most people, so it’s important to observe if financial anxiety plays a prominent role in your date’s day-to-day life. There are a number of common financial worries we all share—rising insurance rates, unexpected car repairs, rent increases—but there are also more specific and individualized concerns. Listen to how your date talks about money and pick up on whether their stress is grounded in worries we all have or if they have a more specific reason for concern.

In both instances, it’s important to be supportive and helpful where you can. If your partner is feeling nervous about money, they’ll likely be much more cautious about what they’re spending, which can be a good thing. But it can also stop them from making necessary purchases or looking into investments that might actually benefit them in the future. As a partner, you can help out by minimizing their expenses for things like nights out and gifts in favor of less expensive outings or homemade gifts to leave more of their budget available for necessities.


Does your date actually look at how much they’re spending before handing their credit card to the waiter or bartender at the end of the night? It’s a subtle sign, but someone who looks over a bill is likely much more observant about what they spend than someone who just blindly hands cards or cash over once they get the tab.

Knowing what you spend every month—even on smaller purchases like drinks or dinner—is key when you’re staying on a budget. It’s that awareness that allows people to adjust their monthly budget and calculate what their new balance will be once the waiter hands over the check. Someone who knows exactly what they’re spending on the small purchases is probably keeping a close eye on the bigger picture as well.


While these subtle cues can be helpful signposts when you’re trying to get an idea of your date’s financial personality, none are perfect indicators that will be accurate every time. Our financial personalities are rarely cut and dry—most of us probably display some behaviors that would paint us as savers while also showing habits that exclaim “spender!” By relying too heavily on any one indicator, we might not get an accurate impression of our date.

Instead, as you get to know a new partner, the best way to learn about their financial personality is by having a straightforward and honest talk with them. You’ll learn more by listening and asking questions than you ever could by observing small behaviors.

Whatever your financial personality is, it pays to keep an eye on your credit score. Discover offers a Free Credit Scorecard, and checking it won't impact your score. It's totally free, even if you aren't a Discover customer. Check yours in seconds. Terms apply. Visit Discover to learn more.

Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]


More from mental floss studios