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The Symbol of Teachers: The History of Apples in Schools

Apple for the teacher

Teachers and apples have gone hand-in-hand since the 1700s.

As you head off for your children’s first day of school, you may notice bright red apples decorating the classroom. This little crimson fruit has become one of the many symbols associated with schools all over the world. But what does an apple have to do with schools and teachers?

International History

In the past 300 years, the world has come a long way in educating our children. The tradition of giving an apple to a teacher started in the 1700s before governments around the world paid for the education of its people. Poor families in Denmark and Sweden gave teachers baskets of apples and potatoes as payment for teaching their children.

Domestic History of the Apple Gifts

Until the 1800s, American children were taught by hired tutors or were sent to private schools by their upper and middle class families. But for the lower classes, children were taught by apprentices or by church-funded schools. Then, in the 1800s, Americans started various social reforms such as food sanitation, improved treatment of the mentally ill, and educational reforms. Schools became publicly funded to ensure that every student was learning the same material. Unfortunately, in remote areas of the country such as the western frontier, communities were too poor to afford a teacher’s wages. Families worked out a deal with teachers to exchange lessons for produce from their farms. Students would haul bushels of fruits and vegetables to classrooms in order to pay for their lessons. The most popular produce given to teachers was apples as they grow commonly in a variety of climates. These apples were commonly used to make hard apple cider, regarded at the time as a safer beverage than water.

Modern Day Apple Gifts

During Prohibition, apple growers used a new campaign – “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – in order to rebrand this colorful fruit, giving the apple new appeal as a cheap, healthy snack. In modern days, students and parents continue to give teachers apples as an inexpensive, healthy snacking option for a long day at work. But before you pick up a plain red apple for your child’s teacher, you might consider an upgrade to something covered in our caramel and chocolate like our signature Caramel Apples. There are many different styles to choose from and your child’s teacher is sure to love this back to school treat with a long history!

Wockenfuss Candies

For more information on our favorite back to school gifts, contact Wockenfuss Candies. If you have any questions about our products, please contact us at Wockenfuss Candies: call 1-800-296-4414 or email When you’re not savoring our specialties, satisfy your sweet tooth by following us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest!


This entry was posted on Friday, August 21st, 2015 at 4:27 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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