One of the most-referenced sequences in Good Will Hunting is, of course, the “apples scene.”
As the boys stumble from the bar, crossing Bow Street, Morgan sees the ponytail jerk sitting in Dunkin Donuts. Will goes over and initiates a little confrontational wordplay through the glass. (In the screenplay it’s not a Dunkin Donuts, but another bar. We also learn that the original “Harvard bar” was intended to be the now-nonexistent Bow & Arrow Pub.)
Our boys are walking out of the bar teasing one another about their bar-ball exploits. Across the street is another bar with a glass front. Morgan spots Clark sitting by the window with some friends.
There goes that fuckin’ Barney right
now, with his fuckin’ “skiin’ trip.”
We should’a kicked that dude’s ass.
Will crosses the street and approaches the plate glass window and stands across from Clark, separated only by the glass. He POUNDS THE GLASS to get Clark’s attention.
Clark turns toward Will.
DO YOU LIKE APPLES?
Clark doesn’t get it.
DO YOU LIKE APPLES?!
Will SLAMS SKYLAR’S PHONE NUMBER against the glass.
WELL I GOT HER NUMBER! HOW DO YA
LIKE THEM APPLES?!!
Will’s boys erupt into laughter. Angle on Clark, deflated.
EXT. STREET — NIGHT
The boys make their way home, piled into Chuckie’s car, laughing together.
I was recently informed that in the new word game Appletters, from the makers of Bananagrams, a player going out must yell “HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES.” And so I’ve been wondering, beyond its popularization in Good Will Hunting, where does this idiomatic expression of smugness come from?
The Internet (Wikipedia) dates the phrase back to World War I.
It is likely that the phrase originated during the First World War, when allied soldiers used mortar shells known as toffee apples, because of their resemblance to the confectionery. After using them to successfully take out an enemy, soldiers may have yelled in a sort of victory cry, “How do you like them apples?”
Beyond its use in a John Wayne film and Polanski’s Chinatown, there’s not much of a pop cultural record of the phrase, though it has apparently been listed in idiom dictionaries since the 1920s.
It also seems that every newspaper or magazine article that discusses apples or Apple computers is required to use the phrase as its headline. (Though it is best used by respected news sources who possess a photograph of a squirrel eating an apple.)
Interestingly, a peek into Google Trends indicates that the phrase “them apples” has received a large percentage of traffic from the fair city of Boston (data has only been kept since 2007). In fact, our Commonwealth’s proud capital googles “them apples” more than any other city in the world. (Dublin, Ireland, comes in second.)
Yo Ireland, so, how do you like… oh — nevermind.