There is perhaps no juggling routine more hated by jugglers and more loved by audiences than the “eat the apple” trick. To juggle one or more apples and take bites from the fruit while doing so is one of the most famous tricks in the juggling world. Let’s take a quick look at this famous routine.
The use of apples as juggling props is very, very old. The first known reference to apples being used for juggling dates from the 5th Century AD. The Irish hero Cuchulainn is described as “keeping nine apples, and his shield, and his sword in the air, that none of them fell to the ground.” We know that apples were juggled in the mid-1700s by “L’incomparable Dupuis,” who performed with three pieces of the fruit in his act.
The first known person to eat the apple while juggling was Charles Carson (1889-1944), who did so starting in the 1910s. It has been estimated that he ate around 60,000 apples on stage during his career.
English juggler Jean Bedini (1880-1955) also claimed to be the first to perform the trick. While I can’t find any dates confirming or denying this, he was famous for another trick involving food. As he toured the United States, he would perform a publicity stunt in each city. He would have an assistant toss a one pound turnip off the roof of the city’s tallest building and would catch the turnip on a fork held in his mouth. Crowds would gather to watch the stunt. In 1915, Bedini was attempting the trick in Washington, D.C.. The turnip was dropped from a 12 story office building and knocked the fork from his mouth, loosening many of his top front teeth. This was the end of this famous stunt by Bedini.
George Moore performed the eating the apple trick in the 1940s, as you can see in the following video filmed by Bobby Jule.
Fellow 1940s juggler Bob Dupont included a version of the trick in his act. He would juggle an apple, a plate, and a napkin and eat the apple as he juggled. You can see this routine, as well as the rest of Bob’s act, in the following never-before-seen video that was filmed by Bobby Jule. The apple eating routine is the last in the video. Also note Bob Dupont’s amazing 3 club slap backs way back in the 1940s.
Larry Weeks also ate the apple in his act during the 1940s. You can click here to see him do so in the 1943 film “This is the Army.”
Eating the apple has been a mainstay of comedy juggling acts ever since the 1940s. Perhaps the most famous version of the routine was performed by Michael Davis beginning in the 1980s. The routine was often used to end Davis’ act, as you can see in the following video.
Another comedy juggler who is closely associated with the routine is Michael Goudeau. You can see his version of the routine at the beginning of the following video.
While many jugglers have included the routine in their acts, it is hated by many other jugglers who dislike that it is so popular among audiences, whom they wish would prefer more technical and/or artistic forms of the art.
Jason Garfield even has a comedy routine about this trend in which he juggles apples and shows how easy it is to eat them, all while not eating them. You can see this below.
Those jugglers who dislike the trick in preference of more artistic presentations might find the use of the trick by the Gandinis in their show Smashed to be more to their liking.
Despite the stigma sometimes associated with performing the routine, many jugglers still include it in their acts. There is even a popular Guinness world record category for the trick: The Most Bites Taken From Three Apples Whilst Juggling In One Minute (or 30 Seconds). Below are some of the recent holders of the record.
As you can see, eating the apple while juggling has a long history and continues to be a popular routine with jugglers and audiences alike. It’s easy to do, but be warned that some of your peers might think of you as a hack unless you come up with an original or difficult way of presenting the trick. You’ve been warned!!