apple + john, possibly from the fact that it can be eaten on St. John's Day, June 24th, of the year after it was picked.
applejohn (plural applejohns)
- (obsolete) A variety of apple which can be kept for a long period, gradually becoming dry and withered; known today as the French Crab
a. 1599, William Shakespeare, II Henry IV, Act II Scene IV:
- What the devil hast thou brought there? apple-johns? / thou knowest Sir John cannot endure an apple-john.