The Historical Reason We Associate Apple Pie With the Fourth of July

A recipe for apple pie was included in the very first American cookbook in 1796.

For many of us, there's nothing more American than eating a slice of homemade apple pie while watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July. But have you ever wondered why we associate the fruit-filled pastry with the birth of our country? It turns out, apple pie was one of the first desserts to be made in America, and there's a pretty interesting story about why the colonists began baking it. The patriotic origins of the classic dessert date back to the 1600s, when the colonists first arrived in America, long before the first Independence Day.

apple pie
Blaine Moats

What Makes Apple Pie So American?

The pilgrims originally came to America to gain independence from Britain, and so they began distancing themselves from British culture in every aspect of their lives. Rather than keep making traditional English desserts (like scones and bread pudding), they began making a new kind of treat introduced to them by Dutch immigrants in the 1700s. Dutch and German immigrants taught them how to make a flaky, buttery crust, which the colonists then filled with sliced apples and spices, creating the iconic American dessert we enjoy today.

While this certainly wasn't the first time an apple pie was baked, it was likely the first time any of the colonists had tried the dessert. And, a recipe for apple pie was included in the first known American cookbook titled American Cookery, which was published in 1796, a few years after America had won its independence.

So, apple pie is associated with the Fourth of July because the holiday is about celebrating independence from Britain, and baking apple pie carried a similar meaning for early colonists.

Why We Say “As American as Apple Pie”

You've likely heard the phrase "as American as apple pie," which comes from the folktale about Johnny Appleseed (who was a real person!). The phrase was first used in the early 1800s but didn't become widely known until World War II, when it became common for soldiers to say "for mom and apple pie" when speaking to journalists about why they had enlisted. From then on, the phrase "as American as apple pie" has been used for anything deemed patriotic.

This year, celebrate Independence Day by chopping up some Granny Smiths and folding them into a perfectly flaky old-fashioned apple pie.

Patriotic Apple Pie Dishes

Serve up a hot apple pie in one of these red, white and blue pie dishes for the ultimate patriotic dessert.

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Pie Plate with Recipe

red and white apple pie dish with recipe
Courtesy of Amazon

This 6-inch pie dish includes a recipe, so you can easily make a small apple pie that serves two—perfect for a pandemic-style Fourth of July celebration. Plus, the dish is microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe.

Buy It: Apple Pie Plate with Recipe ($19, Amazon)

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Blue Ceramic Pie Pan

blue ceramic pie dish
Courtesy of Amazon

This patriotic blue pie dish will dress up any classic apple pie. The 10-inch dish ships in 2 days with Prime shipping, and has a smooth glaze that makes for easy cleaning.

Buy It: 10 Inch Ceramic Pie Pan ($18, Amazon)

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Classic Red Pie Dish

red pie dish with pie inside
Courtesy of Amazon

This red and white ceramic pie dish is perfect for Fourth of July, but it's classic enough to use for meals and desserts the rest of the year too. It's oven, broiler, dishwasher, and microwave safe, and is designed to keep contents warm for long periods of time, which means you can serve up slices of hot apple pie long after it comes out of the oven.

Buy It: Emile Henry Modern Classics Pie Dish ($45, Amazon)

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