In a modest Indiana town called Danville, there’s a place called Beasley’s Orchard where parents can bring their children to let them experience the natural resource of fresh air, and older couples can wander around as a birthday date and/or happy excuse for light exercise. During certain times of the year, visitors to Beasley’s can peruse a farmer-food shop, walk quickly through a small-business sales-tent, get lost for years in a corn maze, or lay traps for the Great Pumpkin in their rather sincere pumpkin patch.
You’re surely familiar with one of the orchard’s biggest superstars: Them Apples.
From the beginning of Creation onward, their most famous role was as a tool of Satan to sabotage humankind’s residency in the Garden of Even. That wasn’t what Them Apples signed up for. They were as horrified by that turn events as the rest of us have been ever since. Them Apples spent millennia living down that initial bad impression. It would be ages before the invention of the apple pie redeemed them before a wide audience. That was a good start, but they wanted to emerge from their hiding spaces and rejoin the rest of the food pyramid. They craved more attention, more respect, and more love.
Them Apples thought their luck might change with the invention of moving pictures. Such an enchanting medium might be just the showcase for a fruit that meant well and wanted the adoration of a generous public. Sadly, their first major starring role required them to poison the fair maiden Snow White. Finding themselves typecast as a villain’s plot device left them with a bitter taste.
Over time, though, Them Apples realized something: fans love a memorable bad guy. The movie built an audience, then a reputation, then an indisputable role in cinematic history. That once-maligned poisoned apple became a worldwide icon known to children and adults alike. At long last, apples had hit the big time.
Time and again, apples would find their ways into movies and TV shows. Apples in pies, on windowsills or in eating contests or in ruthless slapstick pie fights. Apples on corner fruit stands, to be stolen by hobos or knocked over by car chases. Apples shot dead by archers off the heads of sidekicks and kidnap victims. Apples used as affordable housing for cartoon worms. Apples stuffed in the mouths of cartoon pigs, often without the benefit of a stunt double. Apples as Johnny Appleseed’s primary product and lifelong addiction. Apples printed on Beatles record labels. To casual onlookers, apples had risen to superstardom as king of the fruit heap.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes…things were falling apart.
There was no exact moment when their slump began. Maybe they chose one bad role too many, or were too choosy about the offers made to them. Maybe it was their diva-like nature, a reported source of vicious in-fighting between apple varieties. All we know is that decades passed without apples making quite the cultural impact they once had. Soon their name became a joke, lent to questionable namesakes such as a less-than-stellar Star Trek episode called “The Apple”, the incompetent Apple Dumpling Gang, “Cousin Larry” Appleton from Perfect Strangers, baby headliner Apple Martin, and those so-called Apple Jacks.
The nadir came in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, when School Ties costar Matt Damon, playing the world’s smartest janitor, took the name of Them Apples in vain for the sake of a clever punchline. It would prove to be the movie’s funniest moment, its pleasure derived at the expense of one pompous character’s last remaining shreds of dignity as Damon shouts at him through a window, “Do you like apples? [slap] I got her number. How do you like THEM APPLES?”
The damage was done, and there was no turning back. Apples had become a laughingstock.
Them Apples have never really recovered, especially after a certain zillion-dollar corporation stole their name and redefined it so that the Average Joe associates it not with friendly natural snacks, but with cold-hearted inorganic merchandise. In a world where children nowadays flock to junk food or bacon, apples spend most of their days like hermits in the shadows, well away from the spotlight that once sought them out. Green apples are a recurring character in every other episode of Chopped, but they’re merely one outlier sect of Them Apples, hardly representing for the majority.
From time to time one will leave the branch for special occasions, such as the one apple in the bunch who scored a cameo in the Kobayashi Maru scene in 2009’s Star Trek. Perhaps director JJ Abrams meant the role as reparations for “The Apple”. If that’s the case, neither Them Apples nor the notoriously tight-lipped Abrams will speak on the record.
[No apples were harmed in the making of this mockumentary, unless our hayride tractor ran some over. No product placement or monetary considerations factored into the making of this episode. To learn more about apples, visit your local library, or wait ten minutes for Sesame Street to dredge up apples yet again for preschool alphabet lesson #27,000,005.]