Why Do People Put Cheese On Their Apple Pie? We Get To The Bottom Of It

September 27, 2018

There’s nothing more American than baseball and apple pie with cheese on top. What? You’ve never had the melty, cheesy version of America’s favorite dessert? You’re missing out, according to the people who swear by it. How did this bizarre tradition come about, and is it really any good? We did some digging to get to the bottom of this strange but iconic food combo.

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight: apple pie is actually not all-American. According to Southern Living, the pie has its roots in 14th-century England and later immigrated to the newly-formed American colonies with the English settlers. Once it got here, the recipe began to develop and change within different regions in the country. The people in one such region, New England, decided to place a slice of orange cheddar cheese atop their apple pie and the rest of the country has been side-eying them ever since.

But like regular old apple pie, apple pie and cheddar cheese is also not a modern American invention. Southern Living writes that cheese and pie most likely originates from the Medieval period when anything and everything was put into a pie. Food historians say that, in ancient times, cheese was often served after meals to help with digestion. This tradition carried over into 17th- and 18th-century England, where dairy custards were served with dessert items.

Somehow, someway, cheddar cheese stepped in for custard and here we are.

We’ll admit, it doesn’t look appetizing. And to some who aren’t used to it, perhaps it doesn’t taste that great either. But New Englanders and some Midwesterners out in dairy country live by the phrase, “an apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze,” and aren’t about to give up their odd comfort food to fit in with the crowd.

Many claim the sweetness from the pie cut with the saltiness of the cheese works just as well as chocolate-covered pretzels, as Atlas Obscura notes.

Depending on the family recipe, cheese can be baked into apple pie crust, melted into the filling, or served cold on top like ice cream.

Even if you’re not about the combo, don’t knock it ’til you try it. You might just become a cheesy apple head after your first bite.