I don’t think that I have ever used the idiom, “Apple-pie order,” in a conversation in my entire life. Furthermore, I don’t think that I have actually heard anyone else use it either.
Therefore, when the phrase popped spontaneously into my mind a couple of weeks ago, in response to my having finished “tidying-up” a family in NewFamilySearch, I was surprised.
Now, it frequently springs spontaneously to my lips as I admire how the family looks when they have their names and dates all tidied-up and the children in chronological order. In that moment, I feel enormously warm and happy and contented.
It’s an odd little idiom. Where did it come from? No one really knows, but it is thought that it was an English corruption of the French nappes pliées, “neatly folded.” Everything is in perfect order and tidy if it is in apple pie order. Interesting that its origins might be French—seeing as how it is French families that I am tidying up. Another oddity is that apple pie is “distinctively American”—“as American as apple pie.”