Why Southerners Wouldn't Put A Slice Of Cheese On Apple Pie

Apples and cheddar might be companions on a cheese board, but in the South, never on a pie.

If you serve a Southerner a slice of warm apple pie topped with a wedge of sharp cheddar cheese, prepare for confusion, or at the very least: "Where's the ice cream?" In the South, apples and cheddar may be companions on a cheese board (or even in a grilled cheese), but the two rarely meet when it comes to pie.

Talk to someone who grew up topping their pie with cheese, and they'll likely recite the old saying: "An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze." For many people, these two foods go hand-in-hand.

Apple Pie
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History of Apple Pie Topped with Cheese

For the rest of you who have never tasted or heard of this combination—it's a Yankee thing. Perhaps a little more accurately, it's a practice that likely dates back to Medieval times that was later brought to the New World by European settlers. It eventually spread across what we now consider New England (apple country) and the upper Midwest (dairy country).

Food historians offer many different explanations of what brought these two foods together in the first place. In ancient times, cheese was often served with fruit and nuts at the end of meals to aid digestion.

However, the cheese-apple pie connection traces back to England, the birthplace of cheddar and the apple pie. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a dairy-based sauce often topped English pies, such as custard. Cheddar stepped in for the sauce along the way—the rest was history. You'll still find this combination on menus and dining tables across the Northeast and Midwest.

Even if you're not accustomed to pie a la cheese, you might like this sweet-savory combination. Or you could stick to ice cream.

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