Who can forget Matt Damon’s famous line in the movie Good Will Hunting as he was pounding on the pub window, taunting that rich grad student who failed to get the girl’s number? “Do you like apples?” followed with him showing the guy the girl’s phone number and saying, “How do you like them apples?” before he walked away with his friends laughing.
An exclamation of good fortune? Maybe gloating to your doubters? Well, you better drop that expression. Who would’ve thought that this seemingly innocent (although smug) phrase was stolen from the trenches of World War I, of all places, with the apple being referred to was the “toffee apple” that, although sounding like a scrumptious dessert, was actually a tool of destruction.
How do you like them apples? So much.
World War I Exchange
World War I was the largest conflict of its time, with many nations being involved and fighting in the trenches of war. Apparently, it was not only guns and explosives that were exchanged during the war but also the dialects that they picked up from different cities, countries, and continents. This “world” or war created a whole new set of phrases from the combination of these different languages and cultures. For example, the anti-aircraft gun designed to shoot upward at enemy planes was called an ack-ack gun. That goes the same for the “how do you like them apples” phrase. In particular, it was referring to the 2-inch medium mortar made by the British and was called the “toffee apple.”