Apples and Patriotism

In the previous blog I looked at a couple of small apple recipe booklets – one published in 1914 that was dedicated to the “patriotic housewives of Canada,” and one published a couple of decades later that concluded with the message “Serve apples daily and you serve your country too.”

When the World War II broke out in September 1939, the patriotic message attempting to convince women to buy and eat apples was quickly ramped up. By October, the message was skewered in a front page cartoon of The Vernon News [I]. 

Cartoon - apples and patriotic duty

The British Columbia Fruit Growers’ Association seized the opportunity to dispatch four young women described as fruit envoys or apple ambassadors to visit 14 prairie cities, meet with the mayors, have them sign a proclamation and provide educational seminars. One of the young women was Isobel Stillingfleet of Kelowna who at the time was champion apple packer of the British Empire and in various cities provided a demonstration of apple packing, to the public and sometimes to school teachers[ii]. 

Apple ambassadors

The proclamation signed by mayors across the prairies read:

Whereas: People are enjoined during this national Emergency to rally in support of one of the greatest products of this Dominion of Canada, and,

Whereas: Apples are known to be the universally popular fruit because of their irresistible appeal to the palate and their indisputable value in nutritive and medicinal properties, and,

Whereas:  British Columbia orchards have never produced better quality apples to sell at lower prices, His Worship, the Mayor, has promised the full co-operation and support of the people of this city in the campaign to eat more apples.[iii]

Later that November, The Vernon News ran an article, written anonymously titled “The Woman and the Apple Again.”[iv]

From the days of our first parents, Adam and Eve with their beautiful garden, women and the apple have been mysteriously linked together.

This month…the huge sum of $70,000 is to be spent in an endeavor again to bring woman and the apple together; to renew their acquaintance; to reiterate the healthful and beneficial properties of the king of fruits; also to point out the patriotism she displays when, this winter, she buys a box of apples.

The article continued, building the arguments for why women should buy apples for their families – “lowest possible price,” “helping her family to health and her country to a measure of prosperity,” and “serve apples often, for in so doing you help yourself and others.”

Patriotism, the power women could wield in the society, and their obligation to exercise it all became arguments repeated from September 1939, throughout the 1940s in the marketing of apples. Production was increasing and markets needed to be found. Apples became a staple in many prairie and BC diets, usually a part of any school or worker’s lunch packed from home. Apple pie served with cheese slices or ice cream became a staple in many restaurants.

[i] The Vernon News, October 19, 1939, p. 1.

[ii] The Vernon News, November 9, 1939, p. 1.

[iii] The Vernon News, November 9, 1939, p. 7.

[iv] The Vernon News, November 30, 1939, p. 2.