Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Meller Apples

red apples

A comment on my recent video about making Apple Bread reminded me of something Pap and Granny always said.

I literally eat an apple almost everyday of the world. I like my apples on the sweet side with a real crunch. Granny and Pap liked their apples meller, which meant they liked them on the soft side.

I looked in the “Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English” to see if there was an entry for meller in relation to an apple and this is what I found.

A Variant forms meller.
1925 (in 1935 Edwards NC Novels 88) meller. c1950 (in 2000 Oakley Roamin’ Man 44) Thar is no master yit has found entrancing pictures to behold with the green and brown and yellow all the red meller gold all the colors of the rainbow in the morning.
B verb To make (something, as a person’s head) soft or tender by beating (it) to a pulp. c1960 Wilson Coll. = to beat, smash, whether an apple or a head. 1974 Fink Bits Mt Speech 16 = to beat. “I’ll meller his head if he pesters me.” 1998 Montgomery Coll (known to Adams, Brown, Bush, Cardwell), = to make mellow, as a mellow (soft) apple (Jones), = to mellar a nose is to beat it until it is soft and squishy (Ledford). 2005 Williams Gratitude 509 There’s also a threat said as “I’ll meller yer head for ye.” Mellerin’ yer head usually meant rubbin’ it real hard with the knuckles, but could be a lot worse.

Granny and Pap’s meller apple usage is at least mentioned in the dictionary entry, although it’s mostly about beating 🙂 I’ve never heard meller used in relation to giving someone a pounding, but The Deer Hunter said he’d heard it.

Last night’s video: Harvesting the Last of the Garden.


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  • Reply
    Betty Jo Eason Benedict
    October 2, 2021 at 8:53 am

    My Mom preferred a soft apple…..usually Yellow if I recall……but she called them a”Mealy Apple”. We had a small apple orchard when we lived in Iowa…….Jonathon quickly became my favorite. On a cold Oct morning a crispy Iowa apple on the way to work was the best I’ve ever had!

    • Reply
      Rita F Speers
      October 3, 2021 at 9:45 am

      Growing up, I heard both terms…meller and mealy used. In my mind, I considered mealy apples to be dryer than meller apples.

  • Reply
    Kevin Knight
    October 1, 2021 at 10:49 pm

    My favorite apple is a New England Cortland that has been frost bit, they are slightly crisp, juicy and sweet. My pick for a meller apple is golden delicious.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    I love apples. I like my kinda on the crunchy side too. I love making Apple Butter. So good. I love the bread too.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    The more I do to it

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 8:13 pm

    I have often threatened to give someone a “Do Bigger”. That’s a knot on the head that the more I DO to the BIGGER it will get.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 1, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    My Granny Salmons always wanted a “meller” apple. Her store-bought teeth didn’t fit well and it was easier for her to eat the meller ones.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    I like crisp apples, not too tart. I have to cut my apples in small pieces because I have a front tooth that broke off and had to be repaired. No more biting into a whole apple.

  • Reply
    Janette Auditor
    October 1, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    I have never heard of ‘Meller’yer’ head, but I have heard ‘Scob yer knob’ for rubbing someone’s head real hard. Have you ever heard that? I’m with you on the crispy, sweet apples! Right now my favorite is Honeycrisp from Washington. I think there is a newer apple coming out of Washington called Cosmos but I haven’t tried it yet. Hope your family is well.

  • Reply
    Bob Louis
    October 1, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    I enjoy your posts about words that are fading and need to be remembered. Part of my family is Pa. Dutch, and my mother would sometimes call me a little rutsch- a child who can’t sit still.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I liked my apples crisp and sweet or a little tart too. I found an old variety called Mutsu and took them down south to my Mother for Christmas one year. She loved them. After I had my gallbladder out the doctor told me you can eat anything now and then he stopped and said except raw apples. He said it was the pectin in the apple that would cause a problem. I could eat them baked just not raw. That is one treat I really miss as I usually ate one every day. I have heard the word meller used from childhood to now. I always enjoy your videos! I picked the last of my green bell peppers, yellow tommy toes and cucumbers and removed the plants. I have one little red tommy toe that is still producing but today may be the last. I planted some lettuce and spinach and they are coming along fine.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    October 1, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    No use of meller as in beating in coalfields of VA. . Mom used to cut the meller spots, the browning spots. off of her peaches as she was canning them. She put the perfect fruit in the jars as the best was required if it was gonna keep. We kids just got the meller spots to eat. Later ,when I got to eat the whole perfect ripe peach, I thought to myself…why, I believe I like the meller spots better!

    • Reply
      October 1, 2021 at 1:05 pm

      Kat-I love that story 🙂

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    “ I like my apples on the sweet side with a real crunch”
    There’s an Apple at Walmart developed by the university of Minnesota .
    Called the Sweet Tango it fits your requirements sweet and really crunchy..

    • Reply
      October 1, 2021 at 1:06 pm

      EJ-thank you I’ll check them out 🙂

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 10:46 am

    We had apple orchards all over, as did most family who had any land. I was foundered at one time, but again can eat an apple and enjoy. I think this came from going out in the meadows and orchards and eating lunch from the top of anapple tree. I am certin there were many types we will never see in a store that I enjoyed. My paternal grandfather’s farm had a yellow sweet early apple right outside the fence. I remember how delicious they were, and do not think I have seen one of those in many moons. I liked the meller/mellow ones. We speak of people mellowing, and often talk with my sister about how much our Dad mellowed out over the years. Strict when we were small, but never a word that was not carefully chosen as we grew up. Good word I seldom hear outside my own family.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Both of my parents would have chosen a good meller apple over just about any other food. Stories are told about mom climbing apple trees when she was young and hauling feedsacks full of her favorite fruit to a secret hiding place. She tried to transplant some hard-shell papaw trees from her old homeplace because she said they mellered up real good and were so much better than the soft-shelled ones.
    Mom’s threat of mellowing my head got my attention as much as Dad’s threat of a good keen switch.

    • Reply
      Mary Beth
      October 1, 2021 at 12:20 pm

      LOL love these stories 😀

  • Reply
    Margie G
    October 1, 2021 at 9:16 am

    I use mellow quite often. It’s a good word that takes in lots of uses. I like to get mellow in the early evening as I drink my evening coffee and relish in the day that’s closing in fast. … about 3:30 to 5:30 my mellow time takes place daily. The light is starting to change and the pace seems to slow. The world is closed out and it’s about having coffee time alone.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 1, 2021 at 9:02 am

    I’m like you, I’ve never heard of meller in reference to a beating. I’m like Pap and Granny in that I like a soft sweet apple. Meller to a point that tomorrow will be too late.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    October 1, 2021 at 8:17 am

    I’ve known of meller apples all my life. Like you, I prefer a hard, sweet apple. My favorite is the Arkansas Black.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 1, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Gosh, been a long time since I heard “meller” but it is so familiar. I am like you though, I want my apples crispy. Sharon reminds me that a closely related word is “mealy” for apples that get a kinda grainy, dry texture after they pass their peak. I think different apples do differently, some meller and some turn mealy.

    My most favorite apple is a Stayman Winesap. It is a crisp, tart apple which I like better than sweet. They are not good keepers and go meller within about a week and a half. As long as I have them I usually eat at least one a day. They are a mid-season apple and I was told yesterday our local farm market should have them in about 10 days.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 8:03 am

    We have a soft drink in Alabama ,” Mellow Yellow” and in rural areas we call it “ Meller Yeller” with the frequent habit of putting an “ er” on words that end or sound like they end in a or o. Don’t realize it until later . Lol

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Love reading your post email erythromycin morning

    • Reply
      October 1, 2021 at 9:08 am

      Rita-thank you!!

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 7:42 am

    I always heard meller used for a mellow apple too.
    When I was a boy and had done some little wrong Dad would knuckle my head, usually just one hard rap, but I can’t remember what he called it. I’ve carried on the tradition with my grandson in fun and now I know what to call it.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Steen
    October 1, 2021 at 7:31 am

    I forgot about this word!! I am pretty sure I have heard it, but in relation to whacking someone in the head, not apples, lol!

    I was so touched when I watched one of your videos a couple of days ago and you said that you w3rre integrating a word into your vocabulary so it wouldn’t die off. I plan to do the same thing, since we are about to move back home to TN! We are currently at MCAS Cherry Point, NC, but before that we were 4 years in San Diego, and over 5 years in the Hudson Valley of NY – what culture shocks those were!! Anyhoo, I am so appreciative that you share your sweet family and the old ways with us!!

    • Reply
      October 1, 2021 at 9:09 am

      Elizabeth-thank you! I’m so glad you enjoy what we do 🙂

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    October 1, 2021 at 7:07 am

    I have heard the word meller used to describe someone’s demeaner as in; “he sure has mellered out in his older days”.

    • Reply
      October 1, 2021 at 10:16 am

      Sanford, I just didn’t remember at the time I commented but I have heard that and even used it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 1, 2021 at 6:00 am

    I like apples too, Tip, also like them crisp not meller. Sweet or tart is okay as long as they are crisp.

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