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apple pie

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The apple pie is the quintessential Anglo-Saxon pudding, on both sides of the Atlantic—‘as American as apple pie’—but although there is ample evidence of apples being placed in tarts and similar pastry or dough cases since the Middle Ages, the earliest record of the actual term apple pie (and an evocatively approving one at that) does not occur until the late sixteenth century: ‘Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes,’ Robert Greene, Arcadia (1589).

Neither of the common idiomatic English expressions incorporating apple pie (which date from the eighteenth century) appear to have any original connection with apple pies. Apple-pie order may be an alteration of (an admittedly unrecorded) cap-a-pie order, from Old French cap a pie, ‘head to foot’, while the apple-pie bed, the disarrangement of bedclothes as a practical joke, possibly had its origins in French nappe pliée, ‘folded sheet’ (Parson James Woodforde recorded in his diary for 3 February 1781 ‘Had but an indifferent night of Sleep, Mrs Davie and Nancy made me up an Apple Pye Bed last night’).

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