Every September, millions of little ones anxiously board yellow school buses, red apples in hand, eager to greet the school year and new teachers. But what's behind the tradition of presenting apples to teachers on the first day of school? Do teachers inherently share a liking for the fleshy fruit — or is there something more to this tradition?
Actually, the tradition can be traced back as early as the 18th and 19th centuries. In 18th-century Denmark and Sweden, poor families used apples as a form of payment for teachers. In America in the 19th century, a frontier teacher's pay was so little, he or she could barely afford to eat. During this time, students were frequently sent to school with potatoes or apples to help a teacher put food on the table. In fact, in some cases, it was the responsibility of students' families to compensate frontier teachers with room, board, and food.
Why Do Teachers Like Apples? [Children's Museum Indianapolis]
Why Are Apples Associated with Teachers? [Why Guides]
Why Do Students Give Teachers Apples and More from the Fruit’s Juicy Past [Smithsonian]