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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Hard Cider

With the first-ever Central Coast Cider Festival happening tomorrow in Templeton, and great tasting rooms around San Luis Obispo, it’s a great time to learn more about the beverage. Hard Cider’s history in America is quite interesting, and we’re happy that it’s making a comeback in modern times. Here’s some interesting facts about our nation’s most delicious fruit drink.

1. An apple beverage a day?

Our second president, John Adams, swore by apple cider, and actually drank a tankard of cider every morning. Why? He thought it promoted good heath!  He must have been right, because John Adams became our third longest living president. He lived until he was 90 years old. Not a bad way to start every morning.

John Adams' morning routine
John Adams’ morning routine

2. It has a long history

The earliest record we have of drinking hard cider goes back a long time… over two thousand years, to be specific. In 55 BC, the Romans reached Kent, England and noticed that the villagers were drinking an alcoholic drink made from apples. They were quick to adapt the drink for themselves, and brought it back to Rome!

3. Colonists enjoyed it… a lot.

If you think Americans are big drinkers today, you’ll be shocked by the amount of hard cider that colonists in the 1700s consumed. Alice Morse Earle, in Customs and Fashions in Old New England, cites a town of forty families that, in 1721, turned out 3,000 barrels of cider; and a Massachusetts survey of 1790 calculated that every citizen over 15 consumed an annual 34 gallons of beer and cider, five gallons of distilled spirits, and a gallon of wine. By contrast, Americans today drink about 3.8 gallons of alcohol a year. Child’s play compared the colonists!

NGS Picture Id:1771000
Making cider from local apple orchards has been a tradition for over 2,000 years


4. It was political

Hard cider spoke to the people in William Henry Harrison’s presidential campaign in 1840. He was criticized as ill-suited for office, with a journalist remarking “Give him a barrel of hard cider, and … a pension of two thousand dollars a year … and … he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.” Rather than take offense at the remark, Harrison embraced it, changing his campaign slogan to paint himself as a common man who understood the struggles of the people: the slogan “Log cabin and hard cider” became part of his playbook. And it worked! Hard cider was served at Harrison’s campaign rallies, and the people really embraced his populist message, electing him with 234 electoral votes to Van Buren’s 60.

An image from Harrison's "Hard Cider" campaign
An image from Harrison’s “Hard Cider” campaign

5. Prohibition Era hit it hard

You might be wondering why hard cider didn’t continue strongly into the 20th century. Though a number of factors contributed to its demise, Prohibition undoubtedly played a large role. The Temperance movement preached against alcohol, leading farmers to destroy their “evil” apple orchards. Some went so far as to burn the orchards! But now, cider is making the comeback it deserves.

Learn more about hard cider on the Central Coast on our website!

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