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A lot of people think Americans take their apple pie seriously (and we do!) but nowhere is it a more serious affair than in Vermont. You may have heard that there is a law in the maple syrup state that pertains to apple pie. You may have also heard that was a myth. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

apple pie cooling on a windowsill
Via: spxChrome/iStock

The state tree of Vermont may be the sugar maple and they do produce a lot of maple syrup (and ski champions), but the state fruit is apples and the state food is apple pie. It’s such a big deal there that in 1999 legislation was passed to compel people to serve this American classic with at least one of three things: milk (the state beverage), a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, or some cheddar cheese (no smaller than half an ounce in weight).

This was the same act that designated the state food and the state fruit. We presume that a best case scenario involves a glass of milk and either a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cheddar. Sharp cheddar is best in this situation.

glass of milk being poured
Via: Alter_photo/iStock

The act specifies that when serving apple pie a “good faith effort” be made to supply milk, cheddar, or ice cream along with it. While many people have referred to it as a law, the truth is that (to the best of our knowledge) there have been no arrests over this issue. The serving of apple pie alongside one of its buddies is strongly encouraged rather than legally enforced.

So why so much dairy? In England it was traditional to serve desserts with a custard sauce and in New England this sometimes was abbreviated to milk or ice cream. But, the custom of serving Wensleydale cheese with sweet pies was common in the 17th century in Yorkshire, England. So cheese was simply one of many toppings one could put on pie. Here in the states, however, cheese on pie turns out to not only be a divisive stance, but also a very regional practice.

apple pie with a wedge of cheddar cheese
Via: cislander/iStock

For those who love cheese with apple pie there are number of sayings extolling the virtue of the combination, such as one that goes, “An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.” In areas of intensive dairy farming, like England, New England, and the Upper Midwest, the concept of cheese with apple pie is more accepted. Whereas in areas with less dairy farming many people have never even heard of this custom.

In urban areas ice cream has largely replaced cheese on pie owing to the fact that refrigeration allowed for ice cream much earlier than in rural areas. In any case it’s such a popular pairing that some apple pie recipes today call for cheddar to be baked into the crust! And, even if this isn’t your preference it’s hard to deny the appeal of sweet and salty together.

apple pie with a scoop of ice cream
Via: HHLtDave5/iStock

You have to have some very, very powerful feelings about apple pie to even consider legislation about how it can be served. But, then again, people in Vermont are known for doing things their own way. Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery and billboards were banned there beginning in 1968 to preserve the historic landscapes and scenery. Vermonters happen to do things on their own terms- even dessert. Especially dessert.

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