Apple-Pie Order


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. Nobody is sure where and when the expression apple-pie order began.

Some say that Scottish and English writers use the expression a long time ago. Other 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 love to have everything in its place. This perhaps explains why it generally is believed that the expression Apple-Pie-Order began in New England.

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 a table to celebrate the marriage of Thetis and Peleus. One of the gods-Discord was a troublemaker. He 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.

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 tomato form south America after Spanish explorers had landed there. Spain then exported tomato to Morocco. Italian traders carried it onto Italy. The Italian name for tomato was pomo de Mauro, apple of the Moores. When French growers imported it from Italy, they thought de Mauro meant d'amour, the French word for love, and so pomme d'amour 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". 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.