Saturday, March 9, 2013

Apples on the Web: American Orchard

For the past few months I have been enjoying a steady stream of writing about apples and their role in American history and culture at American Orchard.

This blog belongs to historian William Kerrigan, the author of Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard, tantalizing excerpts of which sometimes find themselves into blog posts.

This blog goes right to the heart of the apple as a profoundly social fruit, mediated by society but also mediating it, as in this post about hard cider and the election of 1840.

Cider was rhetorically the "Obamacare" epithet of its day, originally intended as a put-down but embraced by Henry Harrision, who rode it all the way to the White House.

Kerrigan is also a hard-cider enthusiast who explores the story of its domestic decline and celebrates today's cider renaissance.

This is exactly the stuff that I like to know. Beyond an apple's taste and texture and color, what stories does it tell? 

As a historian, Kerrigan is not stingy with links and even primary sources, some quite delightful. His writing is both accessible and deep.

Much of his blog centers on some aspect of the life of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed), touchstone of the history of apples in America.

However Kerrigan also strays from the orchard from time to time to discuss the history of peanut butter, of orange juice, and other topics in ways that tell us not only about our food but about ourselves.

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