Happy National Apple Day!
There are more varieties of apples that I can name, or count.
Now, some of them have pretty straightforward names.
“I sure am surprised that sweet yellow apple is called Golden Delicious,” said no one ever.
But another top apple variety has a person’s name: Granny Smith.
Who was she and why is this tart, juicy green fruit named for her?
Her full name was Maria Ann Smith, born Maria Ann Sherwood in 1799, and she grew apple trees in Australia with her husband, Thomas.
We don’t know a whole lot more about her than that, honestly.
But her neighbors said Smith once invited them over in the 1860s to see a seedling she’d found growing by a creek.
She said it had grown out of the leftovers of some French crab apples that had been grown in Tasmania.
The guests realized right away that the apples on this tree were pretty special: they were good for baking, and just as good for eating fresh.
Smith cultivated the variety, and after she died in 1870, her neighbors kept the apples growing.
By the 1890s they were showing up at agricultural shows in Australia, originally under the name “Smith’s Seedling,” and later as the award-winning “Granny Smith’s apples.”
In the 20th century, Granny Smith apples won new fans in new countries.
Eaters loved the taste, bakers loved their versatility, and grocers loved them because they were pretty sturdy and long-lasting.
And the bright green peel made the Granny Smith apple look as good as it tasted.
No wonder that when the Beatles chose a logo for their company Apple Records, they picked a Granny Smith.
Speaking of Apple Records, today in 1969, the Beatles’ record company got a telegram asking if Paul McCartney wanted to come to New York for a recording session.
It had been sent by Jimi Hendrix, who was planning an album with jazz drummer Tony Williams and music legend Miles Davis.
Too bad Paul was on vacation that week.
Who was Granny Smith? (City of Ryde via Archive.org)
Photo by Amy via Flickr/Creative Commons