Motherhood and Apple Pie


Senior Member
India, Hindi, English, Marathi
Hello everyone,

I wanted to know if the expression 'like motherhood and apple-pie' is used in US/UK.

There is this lecture about Sustainable Development and it mentions:

Sustainability is “motherhood” and “apple pie”

I've no idea what it means here. Could anyone please explain?

Thanks a lot
  • I would say this is well-understood in British English, but its origin is in American English. As no-one could possibly object to the heart-warming ideas of motherhood and apple pie, this phrase is used to indicate that whatever is being referred to (in this case 'sustainability') is praiseworthy and desirable.
    Thanks, Elwintee!

    So, the phrase just conveys images of warmth and kindness?

    Considering that you call it well recognized, it is very poorly documented on the Net!
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    I think in BrE I've generally heard the phrase used ironically to modify nouns such as "issue" or "status".

    If something is described as "motherhood-and-apple-pie" (or just, sometimes, "motherhood") then it is, by definition, such a Good Thing that it can't be criticised.
    All the previous attempts at answers miss the nuance. Motherhood and apple pie is most correctly used as a derogatory term to describe high-sounding but essentially meaningless or inapplicable allusions/statements/aspirations. For example:

    • The speech was all motherhood and apple pie; it didn't include a word about the budget deficit.
    • When asked about the improvements in working conditions we've asked for, the negotiator retreated to motherhood-and-apple-pie assurances.
    • Your vague claim to be an equal opportunity employer is just motherhood and apple pie. Instead show me the numbers of minorities and women in your workforce as well as management, how much they earn, when they were hired.
    They are cliched "core values" that nobody could possibly stand up and disagree on. I think the original saying was "as American as Motherhood and apple pie".

    You can no more be against "motherhood and apple pie" than you can be against "the eradication of poverty", or "world peace".

    The tactic is simple: demonise “the other” and use as many emotional triggers as possible. It’s easy to be against “dodgy landlords”, “bad bosses” and “big polluters”, just like it’s generally easy to be in favour of motherhood and apple pie.
    UK election 2019: this is what populism looks like when done by the British