How Halloween Leftovers Led To The Creation Of Caramel Apples

Apples have quite the history. From the moment Dionysus gave one of these juicy fruits to Aphrodite to when Eve plucked one from the tree of knowledge, this fruit has forever been linked to love and affection, forbidden or otherwise, according to Symbolsage.com. But when Halloween rolls around, apples are linked to another type of love — the candied or caramel variety. But, how did apples become so connected with this day of trick-or-treating? Joan Morgan, author of The New Book of Apples, told NPR, "Apples, apple peels, and even pips have long been used to peer into the romantic future." In fact, Morgan goes on to explain that's why we bob for apples on the holiday, to determine future couplings.

So, when did candied and caramel apples make their debut and their mark on All Hallows' Eve? NPR says these delicious treats are a little more modern in nature. In fact, we would have to wait until the early 1900s for candied apples — aka apples dipped in a liquid sugar — to become a thing. Per Gold Medal Popcorn, it was almost another 50 years after that when caramel apples were invented. But once these sweet apples made their presence known, there was no going back.   

A Kraft employee came up with the first caramel apple

According to Gold Medal Popcorn, it wasn't until the 1950s that we got to experience the sweet sensation of hardened caramel wrapped around an apple. In fact, it was our favorite makers of Mac and Cheese that would lead the way. An employee of Kraft Foods named Dan Walker is credited with inventing the caramel apple. And as with most great inventions, it was by pure accident. It's said the caramel apple came about after Walker was using a little ingenuity with figuring out how to use up some leftover Halloween caramels. As the story goes, Walker melted them to form a sticky liquid that he then dipped the apples in. Of course, that's all it took and the seasonal treat was born. 

Per Gold Medal Popcorn, caramel apples were dipped by hand until 1960 — that's when the first machine was created by Vito Raimondi of Chicago to handle all the dipping. According to Southern Living, if you want to treat your family to a homemade version of this nostalgic Halloween treat (which also makes a fun activity to do with kids), you'll want to choose the right type of apple as that's what really makes or breaks this spooky and fruity treat. The article suggests that Granny Smith is the apple of preference since its tart qualities will counter some of the sweetness, and they strongly caution against using an overly sweet and soft apple like Red Delicious that can become mealy.