People who were born in the early 1980s and earlier likely spent some time bobbing for apples each fall. Bobbing for apples long has been a classic autumn activity. Yet today’s children may not know what it entails.
Bobbing for apples is a tradition that began in Europe hundreds of years ago as a courting ritual or a way to see who would get married next. When Europeans settled in the United States and Canada, they brought their apple bobbing traditions with them. However, over the years, bobbing evolved from an activity geared around romance to one focused on fun for children.
Apple bobbing has largely fallen out of favor as more parents zeroed in on the potential yuck factor of having several mouths and noses dunked into the same bucket of water trying to grab a Red Delicious or Granny Smith. The pandemic also undoubtedly made some people skeptical about the safety of apple bobbing. Thankfully, there are alternatives for those who want to enjoy the spirit of apple bobbing without spreading germs.
Tie strings to the stems of apples and hang each individual apple to a clothesline. Without using their hands, participants must consume the majority of the apple of their choosing. Whoever finishes first wins a prize.
One workaround to create more hygienic fun is to give party participants their own separate bowls or buckets for bobbing. Plastic beverage tubs at dollar stores are inexpensive and readily available. Fill them up with water and float two or three apples in each. Then the race is on for each participant to snag some apples.
Grabbing for apples
Kids need not use their jaws to grab apples. Kids can use small spoons, chopsticks, a spatula — anything you can think of — to make it challenging to grab a floating apple.
Symbolic ‘apple’ toss
Fill up red water balloons with water and set up a traditional water balloon toss. Participants pair up and toss the “apples” to one another, moving further and further away with each round. The last pair to have an intact “apple” wins.
Bobbing for apples has fallen out of favor as concerns about hygiene have risen. However, there are ways to incorporate the fun parts of bobbing for apples without compromising kids’ overall health.