The beloved dessert first appeared on menus in 1968.

Perri Ormont Blumberg
October 4, 2018

When I was a kid, the end of school on Friday meant two things: Playing outside in the park with my friends, followed by swinging by McDonald's with my babysitter Thelma for their apple pie. In her gentle South Carolina drawl, she'd order us two, and we'd venture upstairs for the sacred unboxing experience. After sliding our pies out, we'd eagerly chip away at the golden exterior and spear our fork into the apple filling, ensuring that each bite had just the right ratio of crust-to-apples.

My playground days are long behind me, but the apple pie still tugs at my nostalgic heartstrings every time I step under the Golden Arches. Little did I know, but Southerners should feel a special allegiance to the beloved menu item, as it actually was invented in our pocket of the country. 

"The recipe for McDonald’s apple pie came from a Knoxville, Tennessee, franchisee named Litton Cochran, who had opened that city’s first McDonald’s in 1960. The apple pie was the first dessert added to the McDonald’s menu in 1968, the same year that the fast-food company introduced the Big Mac," writes Dana Hatic in a story for food website Eater. "The original recipe and turnover-style pie was fried to crispiness with a light golden color and served hot in a folded cardboard carton." According to Knoxify.com, Cochran was a native of Knoxville and that outpost of McD's to first sling these special pies was located on Magnolia Avenue.

In 1992, McDonald's upgraded the recipe to make the pies baked, not fried — much to the dismay of my Palmetto State nanny and me— though they're still fruity-flaky perfection, served hot, and presented in that signature cardboard box, we all know so well.