The idiom, “Comparing apples and oranges” has been implemented for a prolonged amount of time in order to convey a vast difference between two things. When the phrase is used it provokes the thought that the items are incomparable and as a result, ridiculous to compare. As an idiom it’s meaning is immediately apparent, but when carefully examined as a statement rather than a metaphor, there are similarities, along with differences between apples and oranges that can easily be seen as comparable. Through their physical uses, their use in popular stories, and their physical make-up there are many comparisons and contrasts that can be found. As a result of the comparability between the two, the idiom should become inapplicable.
Around the world apples and oranges can be found as two of the most common types of fruit. They are used in meals, drinks, snacks, and desserts. Apples are extremely well used throughout the world because of their ability to grow in most climates that fruit cannot. They are used in drinks as an added flavor or simply as apple juice. Apple pie, sour apple candy, and even plain apples are all vary common as well. Oranges have become a popular soft drink flavor and is often used in other sweets. It is also very often consumed as juice and in its normal appearance but is also one of the most common artificial flavors used in candy.
Apples and oranges are often used in classical stories. One of these tales can be found in the Greek Myth of Heracles and his twelve labors. His eleventh labor required him to obtain the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides. It is now thought that the golden apples of the story were actually oranges. This is believed, because of the appearance of oranges, which are both “golden” in color and similar in size and shape of apples.
The golden apples are mainly thought to be oranges though, because in Ancient Greece in Ancient Greek, the name melon was used for all foreign fruits, which included oranges. Melon is also the common name for apples. Another story that also includes the use of a golden apple is the myth of Eris. In the myth of Eris she uses a golden apple as an object of lust and vanity. Eris was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis and became envious. She decided to get back at the other Olympians by rolling a golden apple amongst them with Kallisti written on it. In Ancient Greek Kallisti means to the fairest. As a result three Goddesses claimed the golden apple.
The ensuing conflict that arose between Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera eventually led to the Trojan War. Apples, in their true form, have played vital roles in similar stories. The Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the Fairy of Snow White are a few examples apples implementation into classical stories. The story of Adam & Eve is one of the most well known stories of western culture. In it, Adam and Eve are the first humans who live in paradise. God asks them not to eat from one of the apple trees. Adam and Eve agree and say that they will not eat any. This is until the devil convinces them to take one. The devil manipulates Adam and Eve by making them think that the apples are better than anything else in paradise and that God is selfishly keeping the fruit for himself.
Adam and Eve eventually give into temptation and as a result of eat an apple. The two are banished from paradise. Another extremely popular story is the Fairy Tale of Snow White. In Snow White a queen that is jealous of Snow White uses her magic as a witch to make an apple poisonous. The queen then gives the apple to Snow White who eats it and falls into a deep sleep. While in all these stories apple and oranges have pivotal parts, the stories that use oranges include it as an instrument of desire that is sought after while the stories that include apples use them as a temptation from evil itself.
The physical make-up of apples and oranges is heavily littered with comparisons that can easily be shown for their similarities and differences. While both can be similar in some ways there is also a lot that can be seen as completely unique. Both apples and oranges are around the same general size and both share a sphere like shape. They are both a type of fruit that grows on trees. Apples and oranges are both originally from Asia. There is however things they do not share. Apples are a type of the pomaceous fruit while oranges are a citrus fruit. Apple peels are usually eaten and while oranges are harder to digest and usually not eaten. From there the comparisons grow until they reach the point of absurd but plausible contrasts.
Apples and oranges have long been used as examples of drastically different things, which had no way to being considered comparable. Since in truth there are many comparisons between the two and as a result, the common idiom, “comparing apples and oranges” should become obsolete. Through their uses in popular culture, the implementation into stories, and their physical make-up there can be found many similarities and differences.
Sally Twiss. Apples: A Social History (Souvenir Social History Series). New York, National Trust. 1999
Milind Ladaniya. Citrus Fruit: Biology, Technology, and Evaluation. Chicago, Academic Press. 2007
RH Disney. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. New York, Golden/Disney. 2003
Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Cambridge, Delacorte Books for Young Readers. 1992