Created By: TotemicHero on June 4, 2011 Last Edited By: TotemicHero on June 8, 2011
Nuked

Johnny Appleseed

Guy who supposedly spread apple trees everywhere across U.S.

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"I could not enjoy myself better anywhere-I can lay on my back, look up at the stars and it seems almost as though I can see the angels praising God, for he has made all things for good."
Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed is an American legend. Wearing a pan on his head, he traveled across the northern fledgling United States, planting apple trees left, right, and center for the American people to enjoy. Taking no money for himself, he did it entirely out of the kindness of his heart. He dedicated his life to wandering about the land, continuing this work for the benefit of all.

Or so the tales go.

In reality, Appleseed (born John Chapman), was a shrewd businessman and Swedenborgian missionary, who traveled across what is now Ohio and Indiana. He specifically left apple tree nurseries in the care of other farmers, and later returned to collect the profits of the tree sales. As he was frequently willing to accept barter goods or credit instead of money, he was never very monetarily wealthy; most of his wealth was in the frontier land that he had claimed as his own. And he owned a lot. His will left over 1200 acres of land to his sister, and had he pursued the legal rights, he could have owned even more.

His generosity and kindness were hallmarks of his character. He was known, when he received barter goods such as clothes as payment, for keeping the worst of them for himself and selling or trading away the better quality ones. He frequently entertained children with various stories he heard, and regularly promoted his own religion, often leaving pages from his Bible behind.

The majority of the apple trees he planted, incidentally, were of the crab-apple variety, mostly used in the production of hard apple cider. Hence a large part of his popularity during his lifetime came from the fact that he helped bring alcoholic drinks to the frontier, rather than the apple trees themselves, or their fruit.

As a Historical-Domain Character, he shows up quite often in folklore, and in some other forms of fiction as well. Most fictional accounts of the man have a tendency to Disney-fy him, emphasizing his personal poverty and generosity, and downplaying his religious views and mercantile accomplishments.

Either way, his influence is felt to this day, as many tales and stories indicate. Oh, and a type of apple is named after him.


Tropes associated with Johnny Appleseed:


Works in which Johnny Appleseed appears:

Advertising
  • Many Apple corporation ads use him as a slogan character, for obvious reasons.

Film - Animated
  • One of the shorts of Melody Time is dedicated to retelling his story.

Film - Live Action
  • The Stoner Flick parody Johnny Appleweed; the main character is inspired by Mr. Appleseed to spread pot plants across the US.

Literature

Live Action Television
  • On 30 Rock, Liz wanted to do a Johnny Appleseed sketch on TGS, but Appleseed's descendants wouldn't let them use the name. They had to settle for Johnny Bananaseed, until it turned out to be the name of a serial killer.

Music
  • "Johnny Appleseed", by NOFX.

Video Games
  • While he never shows up directly, in Wild ARMs 5 his name is one of only two things Avril remembers, and thus is central to the plot.

Western Animation


Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • June 4, 2011
    ginsengaddict
  • June 4, 2011
    Rolf
    This is not a work page.
  • June 5, 2011
    NateTheGreat
    Next best thing.
  • June 5, 2011
    TotemicHero
  • June 5, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    one of The Simpsons anthology episodes had Lisa play a female version.
  • June 5, 2011
    CaveCat
    Parodied in an episode of Garfield And Friends where Jon played the role of Johnny Ragweedseed while Garfield played his faithful cat, Roosevelt. Every town formed an angry mob and chased them out whenever they planted ragweed, because as we all know, ragweed makes people sneeze.
  • June 6, 2011
    Arivne
    Remember to add this to Useful Notes - People.
  • June 6, 2011
    CrypticMirror
  • June 6, 2011
    TotemicHero
    Historical Domain Character, since he was a real person. Public Domain Characters are entirely fictional, like Merlin.
  • June 6, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Disney made a Johnny Appleseed film Short Subject in 1948.

    "His generosity and kindness were hallmarks of his character. He was known, when he received barter goods such as clothes as payment, for keeping the worst of them for himself and selling or trading away the better quality ones."

    I don't know that I would count that as kindness or generosity; he needed funds, and higher quality clothes will sell better for higher prices than low quality clothes. Should be moved to the "shrewd businessman" paragraph, I'd say.
  • June 6, 2011
    Duncan
    The Stoner Flick parody Johnny Appleweed; the main character is inspired by Mr. Appleseed to spread pot plants across the US.
  • June 6, 2011
    TotemicHero
    @randomsurfer: I know it might not seem like that, but that's how it's usually presented. Keep in mind that if he "needed" funds, he could have not accepted barter goods to begin with.

    Also, the Melody Time entry already covered that Disney entry. Should I move it to animated Film?
  • June 6, 2011
    Generality
    It's important to note that appleseeds cultivate randomly, so an apple grown from a particular seed is almost certain to not resemble its parent in any way. Popular apple cultivars are maintained by grafting. And since the vast majority of apple types are so-called crab-apples, far too sour for human tolerance, almost all of the apple trees that John Chapman planted were only good for the production of hard cider, something most children's programs overlook.
  • June 7, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    Crab apples can be eaten in various ways, I have some recipes if you want, and often were in times past (in fact it is really recently in historical terms that we stopped). Also, self sown apples wont necessarily be of crab apple type. A lot depends on what fertilised the original tree, if the seeds came from an orchard grown fruit then there is a good chance that (while it would differ from the parent) it would be quite edible. It generally takes a couple of generations for fruit to revert back to type (exceptions exist, as always, we are talking about random life here, but in general).

    Incidentally, what is the difference between hard cider and regular cider? Something in the fermentation? Is hard cider distilled to increase the alcohol content or something?
  • June 7, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Regular cider is non-alcoholic. (IDK, maybe it's got a little bit.) Hard cider is alcoholic, with a minimum of 0.5% alcohol by volume.
  • June 7, 2011
    TonyG
    Live Action Television
    • On Thirty Rock Liz wanted to do a Johnny Appleseed sketch on TGS but Appleseed's descendants wouldn't let them use the name. They had to settle for Johnny Bananaseed, until it turned out to be the name of a serial killer.
  • June 7, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    Ah, it appears to be a language thing, where I live all cider is alcoholic. Non-alcoholic cider would be called apple juice.

    I have been enlightened. I always wondered why some people talk about hard cider and regular cider. Thank you.

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