|Photo credit and story: Louisville Courier-Journal.|
Recalling that New Albany businessman will soon be opening a cider bar, and hopes to produce his own cider at some point, it's always a good idea to rewind and see where it all started.
The Real Johnny Appleseed Brought Apples—and Booze—to the American Frontier, by Natasha Geiling (Smithsonian)
The apples John Chapman brought to the frontier were very different than today's apples—and they weren't meant to be eaten
On a family farm in Nova, Ohio, grows a very special apple tree; by some claims, the 175 year old tree is the last physical evidence of John Chapman, a prolific nurseryman who, throughout the early 1800s, planted acres upon acres of apple orchards along America's western frontier, which at the time was anything on the other side of Pennsylvania.
Today, Chapman is known by another name—Johnny Appleseed—and his story has been imbued with the saccharine tint of a fairytale. If we think of Johnny Appleseed as a barefoot wanderer whose apples were uniform, crimson orbs, it's thanks in large part to the popularity a segment of the 1948 Disney feature, Melody Time, which depicts Johnny Appleseed in Cinderella fashion, surrounded by blue songbirds and a jolly guardian angel.
But this contemporary notion is flawed, tainted by our modern perception of the apple as a sweet, edible fruit. The apples that Chapman brought to the frontier were completely distinct from the apples available at any modern grocery store or farmers' market, and they weren't primarily used for eating—they were used to make America's beverage-of-choice at the time, hard apple cider.