What is the origin of "How do you like them apples?"?

My missus thinks I know everything, but she stumped me with this: What does “How do you like them apples?” mean? and where did it originate? Please, save my reputation…

Never heard of it - please give us a little more to work with.

In what context did she say it?

Were there actually any apples present?

What makes you think it means anything at all?

(Or you could just try this )

None of those links give a definite origin of the phrase though.
Most are just showing how common it’s usage is, as far as I can see.

I can’t help at the moment, except that apples & oranges are used a lot in magazine speak to denounce others arguments, so it may have originally been derived in a periodical.

Three guesses:

  1. It comes from the days when dozens of varieties of apple were available to a consumer in the U.S. There’s a two volume set from the late 1800s called “The Apples of New York”, for example. Running into new types of apples would have been a relatively common experience, one supposes.

  2. It’s a reference to breasts.

  3. Both the above.

Since “them” is used instead of “those”, there may be an implication that this was some sort of joke about rural lifestyle.

Hmmmm. Doesn’t anybody know of this phrase as I’ve heard it?

I’ve always heard it in the context of “sweet revenge”. When you get back at someone you then say “How do you like them apples?” Not just any apples mind you… them apples. Kind of like “Hah!!! Take that!”

For a trivial example. Say you’re playing one-on-one basketball with a buddy. Your opponent makes a nice move, leaves you standing there like an idiot and makes an easy layup. You, inspired to get revenge, make an ever better juke and slam the ball into the basket. You then turn to your buddy and say “how do you like them apples?”

The phrase doesn’t have to have anything to do with sports though. I’ve heard it in many different contexts.

Obviously, I have nothing to contribute to attempt an answer to the OP, but I didn’t sense that the other posters understood what the phrase means.

By the way Jammers, welcome to the SDMB!!!

Algernon, I also have heard and used “how do you like them apples?” in that context while I was growing up in and around the Milwaukee area. I noted that you are from Milwaukee.
I wonder if it could be a somewhat regional phrase?

It was also used in the movie Good Will Hunting.

Nope. I’m from New Jersey, and I’ve heard it used this way. I’ve seen it in print, too. This isn’t a regionalism (example of regionalism: In Utah, “Oh my Heck” is a real expression. Nobody else says it. It doesn’t make much sense, because “heck” is normally a euphemism for “hell”, and nobidy ever says “Oh my hell”).
I have a suspicion it may have come from a joke, to which the punch line was “How do you like them apples?”, and it got repeated so often that it became a standard expression.

as posted by someone at this site.

Still no real clue at to where it came from originally, but it seems to me it would have been used or derived earlier that the 1920’s.

Well the phrase was also featured in the film “Good Will Hunting”. It was supposed to take place in Boston, though I admit I don’t know where Ben Affleck or Matt Damon are from(I think it is the Boston area). anyway the point to all that was that I don’t think it is a strictly regional expression. I know I’ve heard it many times, though Michigan is pretty close to Wisconsin.

Algernon, I’ve heard it in the same context as you have, I just don’t have any idea where it came from.

My mom grew up in Texas, and she uses the expression. Her parents were from the Midwest, though, so it may be a Midwestern expression she picked up from them.

Not regional. Period. It’s quite widespread.

Charles Funk’s books (A Hog on Ice, Thereby Hangs a Tale, …) have nothing on it.