Moments to savor: The unexpected appeal of applesauce

Various pastries float above a bowl of applesauce and apples.
(Sasha Matthews • The Student Life)

My favorite memories of fall involve coming home from school to the smell of freshly-baked goodies. “Mommy, I’m home!” my second-grade self would say gleefully, and my mother would rush over to hug me before ushering me into the fragrant kitchen.

There was one day when my mother made pumpkin bread, and she couldn’t hide a mischievous grin from her face as she watched me eat. “How is it?” she asked. “I made it with applesauce.”

I gaped at her with my mouth wide open, pumpkin bread crumbs grossly falling out of my mouth and onto the plate. “Applesauce? But this tastes nothing like apples!”

My mother proceeded to tell me how she used applesauce as a substitute for butter and oil in the baking process. “Not only does it make the pumpkin bread healthier, but fluffier, too,” she noted excitedly.

This news was absolutely mind-blowing for little elementary-school me, who was not a big applesauce fan. I chewed the rest of the pumpkin bread silently, still in disbelief that there were apples in a dessert that tasted solely of pumpkin and nutmeg. Moreover, I was hyper-aware of the fluffy, airy texture in every bite. “How can applesauce do this?” I thought. “I don’t even miss the butter.”

From that moment forward, every time my mother baked something, I would ask her if she used applesauce. “These muffins seem extra fluffy! Was it applesauce? Eating this banana bread feels like I’m eating clouds! You definitely used applesauce, didn’t you?”

Applesauce — a food that I, in the past, would have never given a second thought — gradually developed a special place in my heart. I used to always politely pass on it at grocery stores whenever my mother and I would shop for school snacks, but after that pivotal autumn day, I started racing to the applesauce aisle and placing a hefty jar into my mother’s shopping cart myself. Something that I rarely even thought of became something that I actively sought after.

Funnily enough, I also slowly became an applesauce advocate to my friends. Whenever my mother would pack pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or spiced sweet potato bread in my lunchbox, I would share them at the lunch table and proudly say that applesauce was the secret ingredient. Just like I did to my mother, my friends would stare at me in disbelief. “I don’t even like applesauce…” they’d begin, to which I’d nod understandingly and wait for the rest of the response. Some seconds would pass, and then like clockwork, the words — with surprise and slight confusion — I’d been waiting for: “But I like this?”

My experience with applesauce taught me to give the food items I wasn’t particularly fond of a second chance. I learned the value of varied preparation styles: While eating applesauce straight out of the cup wasn’t my cup of tea, incorporating it into autumnal baked goods made me squeal at its glorious, pillowy texture.

With so many foods out there, there’s bound to be some that we overlook. For you, it may be applesauce (like me!), or perhaps it’s something else. This applesauce story, however, is a reminder that perhaps there’s something you’re missing by withholding that food item from your diet. Maybe it can add a unique texture, maybe it can bring out a certain flavor or maybe it can bring a group of flavors into harmony with one another.

Whatever it is, I’m sure that it will surprise you. So just trust me — an applesauce apathetic turned applesauce advocate — and give those foods the second chance I know they’ve been waiting for.

Emily Kim PO ’25 is from Irvine, California. You will always find her with a scrunchie on her wrist and napping in Lincoln Hall.

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