The Enduring Appeal of ‘How Do You Like Them Apples?’

From the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1928 to the San Francisco Examiner in 2016.

One of the earliest newspaper uses of the phrase “How do you like them apples?” was in 1928. In the Princeton Alumni Weekly, future New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote:

Arrayed in “beer suits,” the Class of 1928 stepped forth after the holiday to tell the world that they are actually Seniors. The design on the back this year – which is the only part of the outfit which is materially altered from year to year – portrays an ebullient student chopping off the head of a terrified and bewhiskered professor. Twenty-seven guesses what this means! Give up? Well, this, people, is supposed to denote unlimited cuts. How do you like them apples?


Today, an abbreviated form of that apples sentence, made popular in the modern age of course by Matt Damon in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, is on the front page of the San Francisco Examiner. The editors went with this “wood” because of how Mayor Ed Lee has characterized some racist text messages sent by a former SFPD officer:

Lee on Tuesday reiterated that the texts were sent by a few “bad apples,” and that he still has “great confidence” in the chief.

“This chief is still a very good chief, and [in] my mind, he’s doing the best we can,” Lee told reporters at a news conference on housing for the homeless Tuesday. “We need to get rid of those bad apples real quickly and [make] sure we respect the other officers who are not engaging…[and] that want to be part of a really good police force.”

We imagine the Examiner headline did the trick and caught the attention of a lot of commuters today in the Bay Area. There’s no price on the front page because since 2003, the Examiner has been a free Sunday-to-Friday daily. Or, as print media industry watchers put it: “How do you like them apples?”

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