Apples are synonymous with autumn. When you think of fall, images of apples come to mind, from caramel apples to apple cider. For this month’s blog post we decided to showcase the Union Pacific’s recipe for apple cider as well as discuss the history of this prevalent beverage.

The history of apple cider goes back to ancient times. Apple trees were growing along the Nile in Egypt, but it wasn’t until Julius Caesar attempted to invade what later became Britain in 55 BCE, that there was the first recorded instance of cider. The locals had been drinking a version of hard cider that the Romans brought back with them and refined to their own liking. The drink spread in popularity throughout the Empire and its popularity continued throughout Europe well after the Roman Empire no longer existed. Apples were originally used primarily for cider as they were too tart for consumption in their original form.

Figure 1 Cover of an essay on cider and other drinks produced in Great Britain, note the mill used to produce cider circa 1678.

By the time the colonists came to America in the 1600s, they discovered that apple trees were easier to grow than wheat for grain and beer, so the drink’s popularity traveled. Cider was such a popular drink in America that even children were drinking it, though theirs was a less alcoholic version. As the colonists moved westward, John Chapman, more commonly known as Johnny Appleseed, brought apple trees and therefore apple cider further west through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois.

Figure 2 Illustration of Johnny Appleseed

The consumption of apples has certainly changed throughout the years, though apple cider in both a hard cider and non-alcoholic form are still around. The Union Pacific issued a booklet 150 Recipes for Apple Dishes in 1924 “in an endeavor to stimulate the general use of apples.” Though we aren’t sure exactly how the book was distributed, it’s likely that the Union Pacific sent them to their employees and passengers for use. The Supervisor of Agriculture for the Union Pacific System noted in the booklet that “apples are a food necessity—not a luxury—and should be eaten freely.” While there are many traditional recipes in the booklet such as many versions of apple pie, the end of the book has a section on apple drinks.

Figure 3 Union Pacific booklet from 1924, front cover. Colorado Railroad Museum Collection.

Though the Union Pacific Booklet’s recipe is a more traditional, non-alcoholic recipe, dark liquor such as rum and bourbon are commonly added to ciders these days. Whether you decide to try the traditional recipe, or spike it with a spirit of your choosing, please let us know how it goes on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or in the comments below.

Figure 4 Click the image for additional recipes from the book.

Figure 5 Other drink recipes in the Union Pacific booklet.

Click Here for more information on the Union Pacific’s apple dishes booklet (Union Pacific Apple Pie- October 2021).


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Past Dining on the Rails Posts:
Dining on the Rails September 2022: Peach Cobbler
Dining on the Rails August 2022: Barbeque
Dining on the Rails July 2022: Mountain Trout
Dining on the Rails June 2022: Eat like a Hobo!
Dining on the Rails: May 2022 – Mother’s Day Shirred Eggs
Dining on the Rails: April 2022 – How about a nice Old Fashioned?
Dining on the Rails: March 2022 – French Toast, Anyone?
Dining on the Rails: February 2022 – A Chocolatey Valentine’s Treat!
Dining on the Rails: January 2022 – Western Pacific Pork Tenderloin
Dining on the Rails: December 2021 – Cranberry Sauce
Dining on the Rails: November 2021 – Oyster Stuffing!
Dining on the Rails: October 2021 – Chicken Pot Pie
Dining on the Rails: September 2021 – Chili
Dining on the Rails: August 2021 – Pullman “Tom Collins” Cocktail
Dining on the Rails: June – How about a salad?
Dining on the Rails – Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ham!
Dining on the Rails: CRI&P’s New England Boiled Dinner
Dining on the Rails: A Sweet Treat for your Valentine!
Dining on the Rails: Black Eyed Peas!
Dining on the Rails: Eggnog
Dining on the Rails: Happy Thanksgiving!
Dining on the Rails: Union Pacific Apple Pie
Dining on the Rails, August 2020
Dining on the Rails, July 2020
Dining on the Rails, June 14, 2020
Dining on the Rails, June 7, 2020
Dining on the Rails, May 31, 2020
Dining on the Rails, May 24, 2020
Dining on the Rails, May 17, 2020
Dining on the Rails, May 10, 2020
Dining on the Rails, May 3, 2020
Dining on the Rails, April 26, 2020
Dining on the Rails, April 19, 2020
Dining on the Rails, April 12, 2020


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