Pork chops and applesauce – a phrase that has become synonymous with the classic American TV show, The Brady Bunch.
But where did this iconic combination originate? Was it simply a catchy phrase used by the show’s writers, or does it have a deeper history?
In this article, we’ll explore the origins of pork chops and applesauce, from its early references in literature to its modern-day popularity as a beloved comfort food.
So sit back, relax, and prepare to learn about the delicious history of this timeless pairing.
Where Did Pork Chops And Applesauce Originate?
The origins of pork chops and applesauce can be traced back to the early 20th century, when the phrase “pork chops and applesauce” was used to describe something that was dressed up or flattered. The phrase was popularized by famous comedian W.C. Fields, who used it to describe pretentious people.
However, the combination of pork chops and applesauce as a meal has a much longer history. Pork chops are a popular cut of pork that come from the loin, which runs from the pig’s hip to its shoulder. They have been a staple in American cuisine for centuries.
Applesauce, on the other hand, has its roots in Europe. The first written mention of applesauce can be found in an English cookbook called Compleat Housewife, written by Eliza Smith in 1739. It is believed that applesauce was originally served as a side dish for meat dishes, including pork.
Over time, the combination of pork chops and applesauce became a classic pairing in American cuisine. The sweetness of the applesauce complements the savory flavor of the pork chops, creating a delicious and comforting meal.
Early References To Pork And Apples In Literature
The pairing of pork and apples has also been referenced in literature throughout history. In the Old Testament, there is a prohibition against eating pork, which was seen as a way for the Israelites to distance themselves from pagan practices. This ban on pork was part of the Mosaic Law, which also included dietary restrictions and hygiene concerns related to eating undercooked meat.
In English Renaissance drama, banquets featuring pork and apples were often included in non-Shakespearean plays. Scholarly monographs such as Banquets Set Forth: Banqueting in English Renaissance Drama by Chris Meads and Aguecheek’s Beef, Belch’s Hiccup, and other Gastronomic Interjections: Literature, Culture, and Food among the Early Moderns by Robert Appelbaum have explored the significance of food in literature, including references to pork and apples.
In the Song of Solomon, apples are linked to sensual desires and beauty. The apple tree is described as being among the most beautiful trees in the wood, and its fruit is sweet to taste. This association with beauty and desire may have contributed to the popularity of pork chops and applesauce as a comfort food.
The Evolution Of Pork Chops And Applesauce As A Dish
The evolution of pork chops and applesauce as a dish can be attributed to several factors. One of the reasons for this pairing is the historical association of pigs with apples. Pigs were often let to graze in apple orchards, where they could feast on the windfalls. The fruit was converted by the pig’s metabolism into pork, instead of rotting into compost and being wasted as a food source. This concept of terroir is relative here – the pig meat being intrinsically compatible with the apple or even flavored with it in a subtle way.
Another reason for the popularity of this dish is that people have been pairing pork with apples for centuries. Before sugar was readily available to most people, fruit sweetened foods were usually served alongside or in combination with savory dishes. Apples were a common way to add a touch of sweetness to pork dishes. This may have started because some farmers would feed old or rotten apples to their pigs, and some people say that a diet high in apples can actually flavor the meat.
The combination of pork chops and applesauce also has a cultural significance. In Spain, for example, slaughtering pigs was a big event, and nothing was wasted. Every part of the pig was good for eating or seasoning other dishes. This tradition may have influenced the popularity of pork chops and applesauce in American cuisine.
Regional Variations And Cultural Significance
As with many classic dishes, pork chops and applesauce have evolved over time to include regional variations and cultural significance. In the southern United States, for example, pork chops are often served with a side of collard greens or black-eyed peas, while in the Midwest, they may be paired with corn on the cob or baked beans.
In some cultures, pork chops and applesauce have special meanings. In Jewish cuisine, for instance, the dish is often served during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, as a symbol of hope for a sweet and prosperous year ahead. In German cuisine, pork chops are often served with sauerkraut and potatoes, while in French cuisine, they may be paired with a cider sauce.
Pork chops and applesauce have also become a cultural icon in American pop culture. The phrase “pork chops and applesauce” was famously used by W.C. Fields to describe pretentious people, but it has since become a nostalgic reference to a simpler time in American history.
Pork Chops And Applesauce In Pop Culture: The Brady Bunch Effect
While the combination of pork chops and applesauce has been a classic in American cuisine for centuries, it was The Brady Bunch that truly put the phrase “pork chops and applesauce” on the map. In Season 3, Episode 055 “The Personality Kid,” Peter Brady (played by Christopher Knight) attempts to imitate Humphrey Bogart and utters the immortal phrase “pork chops and applesauce.” The line has since become one of the most iconic moments from The Brady Bunch.
Despite its enduring popularity, Christopher Knight, who played Peter Brady, still doesn’t understand why the line has endured as long as it has. He even went on to say that he’s constantly asked to say the line by fans all around the world. It’s a phenomenon that he himself can’t even explain.
The line has also become a pop culture reference, with numerous TV shows and movies referencing it over the years. It has become a part of American lexicon and is often used to describe something that is old-fashioned or outdated.
In addition to its impact on pop culture, “pork chops and applesauce” has also inspired its fair share of recipes. Christopher Knight himself even has a recipe for pork chops and applesauce that he claims is pretty tasty.
Modern-Day Recipes And Variations On The Classic Dish
Today, there are countless variations on the classic dish of pork chops and applesauce. Here are a few modern-day recipes to try:
1. Grilled Pork Chops with Spiced Applesauce: Brush pork chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through. For the applesauce, sauté diced apples in butter until tender. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and syrupy.
2. Baked Pork Chops with Apple Cranberry Sauce: Preheat oven to 375°F. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix together diced apples, dried cranberries, honey, and apple cider vinegar. Pour mixture over the pork chops and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pork is cooked through.
3. Breaded Pork Chops with Cinnamon Applesauce: Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix together breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and dried thyme. Dip pork chops in beaten egg and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. For the applesauce, simmer diced apples with cinnamon sticks, sugar, and water until soft. Remove cinnamon sticks and blend until smooth.
4. Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Spiced Apples: Season pork chops with salt and pepper and place in a slow cooker. In a separate bowl, mix together diced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Pour mixture over the pork chops and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Whether you prefer your pork chops pan-fried or grilled, breaded or seasoned simply with salt and pepper, there is no denying that the combination of pork chops and applesauce is a classic pairing that has stood the test of time.