By Bob Josuweit
Did you know an apple is named after one of Gloria Dei’s early leaders?
At age 27, Peter Gunnarson Rambo, came to the area on the second voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel in 1639-40. Initially, he was a laborer but he later served as a Justice of the Court from 1655-1680. Rambo’s hospitality was well known. Not only were court sessions occasionally held at his house, but it was also a place where many visitors, including William Penn, were welcomed. Peter Rambo died at age 85 and was buried at the Swedes’ log church at Wicaco on January 29, 1698.
Rambo had a prosperous farm, which included apple trees grown from seeds he had brought from Sweden. The “Rambo Apple,” which is still grown in several of the northeastern states, was allegedly Johnny Appleseed’s (John Chapman’s) favorite apple. The apple was the first to ripen in the season and was known as an excellent apple for cooking and cider.
There are two other apples which bear the Rambo name although it not known if they are related to Peter. Ripening in August, Summer Rambos make scrumptious pies and applesauce, and are especially suited to drying. The skin is yellow-green with a red blush. The Hauser Strain Rambo is a summer apple which is good for pies, jelly, and drying.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission says it is possible to drive through the orchard country of Pennsylvania, or any other eastern state, and see signs advertising Rambo apples.
The Rambo apple had been extinct in Sweden for three centuries. Some Rambo trees were sent back to Sweden and in 2008 the trees were available in Sweden as part of the Swedish-American Jubilee. The Jubilee honors the Swedish people who crossed the Atlantic for a new life in America, taking with them reminders of what they left behind.
The Rambo apple entered pop culture as the source of the hero’s name in the “Rambo” book and movie series starring Sylvester Stallone. Author David Marrell wanted a strong-sounding name and chose “John Rambo,” after his wife brought home a bag of Rambo apples.
So the next time you eat an apple or hear about Rambo think of the connection to Old Swedes’.