December 22, 2014 15:40 UTC

Words and Their Stories

We Put Things in "Apple Pie Order"

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story

Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

Today we tell about the expression “apple pie order.” It means “in perfect order, very well organized.”

x
Nobody is sure where and when the expression “apple pie order” began. Some say that Scottish and English writers used the expression a long time ago. Others say it first was used in the northeastern American states known as New England. The housewives of New England cut their apples in even slices. Then they filled pie pans with them in an organized way, row upon row. As one writer said, the women of New England loved to have everything in its place. This perhaps explains why it generally is believed that the expression “apple pie order” began in New England.

x
​Another old expression describes the opposite condition -- wild disorder. That expression is apple of discord. It comes from ancient mythology. The myth says that all the gods and goddesses were sitting around the table to celebrate the marriage of Thetis and Peleus. One of the goddesses -- Discord -- was a troublemaker. She threw a golden apple on the table to be given as a prize to the most beautiful goddess.

It was not an easy decision to make. How could they choose among Juno, Minerva and Venus. Paris was given the task of deciding. He decided to give the golden apple to Venus. Juno and Minerva were very angry and threatened him. This, the myth says, began the long Trojan war.

x
At one time, the tomato was called a love apple. That was a mistake. This is how the mistake happened:

In the sixteenth century, Spain imported the tomato from South America after Spanish explorers had landed there. Spain then exported the tomato to Morocco. Italian traders carried it on to Italy. The Italian name for the tomato was “pomo di Moro” -- apple of the Moors.

x
When French growers imported it from Italy, they thought “di Moro” meant “d’amour” -- the French word for love. And so “pomo di Moro” became the apple of love.

People believe many things about the apple. One belief is that it has great powers of keeping people healthy. A very common expression is “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

x
Another belief is based on fact. The expression is “one rotten apple spoils the barrel.” When an apple begins to go bad, it ruins all the other apples around it in the container. The expression has come to mean that one bad person in a group can cause everyone to act bad.

You have been listening to the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

I’m Warren Scheer.

--

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Discord as a Greek god; she was a goddess.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Vladimir from: Albania
08/06/2013 1:09 PM
After I read "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", I am writing you meanwhile I am eating an apple. You deserve our gratifying because you are learning us and giving us scientific knowledges at the same time.
I would like to tell you something interesting related to tomato in my country. In north-west of Albania tomato is named also apple of gold (molla t'arta). I think it is related with Italian language where tomato is named pomidoro and d'oro means of gold.


by: Augusto Duenas from: Brazil
08/05/2013 12:52 AM
Very nice story.


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
08/04/2013 5:14 PM
Your programme has become' the apple of my eye'. Your narration has lit directly upon my brain and lift me up all the time. It has always been a pleasant experience to listen to your wise exhortations or stories that connects one event with another in ready sequences. And it is very hard leaving you at night and always nice to be with you through the internet. Long live internet, Long live VOA. Thank you.


by: Pichamol from: Thailand
08/04/2013 10:56 AM
Thanks for the knowledge and listening skill you give me, and the story make me interested in a pine I can eat.


by: Edgar Guariguata Gil from: Venezuela
08/04/2013 1:02 AM
Hello, here in my country when a person is between two conflict group or always is to plant discord, we say that person is the Apple of Discord, thanks.

Learn with The News

  • Google Scrubbing Search Results

    Video What’s the Top 'Trending' Search This Year?

    At the top of Google’s top-trending searches list is Robin Williams, the American comedian and actor who died four months ago. The list also includes the World Cup, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines, ISIS and Flappy Bird. Chances are that more people have heard of the game Angry Birds than Flappy Bird. More

  • Obama College Sexual Assault

    Video How the US Deals with its Sexual Assault Problem

    A new study shows young women ages 18 to 24 are the most common targets of rape and sexual attack. Many Americans are dealing with the problem. They are hearing and reading about the issue, from awareness and activism at colleges to programs to fight it at the highest levels of government. More

  • Video Helping California’s Homeless

    Federal officials believe there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people nationwide on any given day. Each one lacks a permanent place to live. Reasons for homelessness can include the high cost of housing, poverty and unemployment. Other reasons are mental health problems and bad luck. More

  • Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.

    Audio Cambodian, Thai Rice Voted Best in the World

    For the third straight year, the World Rice Conference has voted Cambodian rice as the world’s best. This year Cambodia shares the award with Thailand. Cambodia produced just one percent of the world’s rice in 2012. It is trying to increase that amount. The award may help. More

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and U.S. President Obama participate in a welcome ceremony for President Obama at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Audio Is China Starting to Live its Dream?

    Trust in the American dream may be disappearing. But halfway around the world, a new dream has been gaining strength -- the Chinese dream. To be exact: President Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream. But, what is the Chinese dream? And how has President Xi started to make his dream for the country a reality? More

Featured Stories

  • Obama National Christmas Tree

    Audio The History of Christmas in America

    In the first half of the 19th century, Christmas was a very different kind of holiday than it is today. People did not have a set way of celebrating. Christmas was not even an official holiday yet. More

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs