Thursday, January 23, 2014


Let us all now join together and sing the praises of pie.

Today, in case you didn't know, is National Pie Day.

If you're anything like me, you had no idea there was such a day.

And, if you're anything like me, you immediately asked yourself "why didn't I think of that?"

Pie is, of course, one of man's greatest inventions; a delectable pastry that can be home to anything from fruit, to lamb, to beef to mincemeat (whatever that is.)

No mere muffins, nor simple bread, pie, when well made, is a slice of heaven here on earth.

My son is wise enough to know this and, when he undertakes chores for his grandmother, he accepts payment in pie.

I have often wondered if we wouldn't all be better off if America operated on a pie-based economy.

Good any time, pie is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner -- heck, for all three if you have enough.

We are lucky enough, here in The Mercury newsroom, to have a baker from Kansas.

Police reporter Caroline Sweeney baked us a double-sized apple pie in honor of what she insists is National Pie Week.

Who were we to argue?

However, given that today is National Pie Day, we gently suggested that perhaps a second helping would be appropriate.

Any pie is good pie....
Or maybe two pies.

The American Pie Council (Yes, there really is such a thing) wants to know what kind of pie you're making for the National Pie Day.

"Will it be one of the 231 varieties of apple pie, the favorite of 36 million Americans? Perhaps pumpkin pie, which was first introduced to the holiday table at the pilgrim's second Thanksgiving in 1623? Or maybe a pecan pie, which is the third most popular choice in our nation of pie lovers?"

These are the kinds of questions only an American Pie Council could ask.

And these facts, which sometimes contradict themselves, are the kinds of fact that only an American Pie Council could provide.

Read and marvel, dear reader, at all the ways pie is central to our very existence:
  • Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. The first pies were made by early Romans who may have learned about it through the Greeks. These pies were sometimes made in "reeds" which were used for the sole purpose of holding the filling and not for eating with the filling.
    (OK., so if the first pies were made by the Egyptians, how could the first pies be made by Romans? And how could the first pies be made by Romans, if they got it from the Greeks who proceeded them? What kind of history is this? I want ANSWERS pie people!)
  • The Romans must have spread the word about pies around Europe as the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was a popular word in the 14th century. The first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie.
    (That actually sounds kind of good.)
  • The early pies were predominately meat pies. Pyes (pies) originally appeared in England as early as the twelfth century. The crust of the pie was referred to as "coffyn." There was
    Where are the legs?
    actually more crust than filling. Often these pies were made using fowl and the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles. (I think I know why the were called coffyns, probably first so-named by the fowl that met their end inside...)
  • Fruit pies or tarts (pasties) were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I. (She was such a tart herself...)
  • Pie came to America with the first English settlers. The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans calling them "coffins" like the crust in England. As in the Roman times, the early American pie crusts often were not eaten, but simply designed to hold the filling during baking. It was during the American Revolution that the term crust was used instead of coffyn.
  • Over the years, pie has evolved to become what it is today "the most traditional American dessert." Pie has become so much a part of American culture throughout the years, that we now commonly use the term "as American as apple pie."
Here are some more facts you never wanted to know about pie:

Pie By the Numbers (No, not pi THE number, that's a whole different thing, and, importantly has never been known to have a delicious filling, just numbers unfolding endlessly...)

• 36 million Number of Americans who identify apple pie as their favorite
• 47% Americans for whom the word “comforting” comes to mind when they think of pie
• 6 million Number of American men ages 35-54 who have eaten the last slice of pie and denied it
• 27% Americans who believe chocolate pie is the most romantic to share with someone special
• 1 in 5 Proportion of Americans who have eaten an entire pie by themselves
• 113 million Number of Americans who have eaten pie for breakfast
• 75 million Number of Americans who prefer to drink milk with their pie
• 32% Americans who prefer no crust on top of their pie
• 90% Americans who agree that a slice of pie represents one of the simple pleasures in life
• 9% Americans who prefer to eat their pie crust-first
• 7% Americans who have passed off a store-bought pie as homemade
• 18% Men who say their wife makes the best homemade pie
• 2% Women who say their husband makes the best homemade pie

And yes, there's more, still more:
  • The first mention of a fruit pie in print is from Robert Green’s Arcadia (1590): “thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes.” 
  • The wet bottom molasses pie, Shoo-fly pie, was used to attract flies from the kitchen. (I've had this pie and I believe it. Sorry Pennsylvania, but it's dreadful.)
  • Oliver Cromwell banned the eating of pie in 1644, declaring it a pagan form of pleasure. For 16 years, pie eating and making went underground until the Restoration leaders lifted the ban on pie in 1660. 
    "So bye, bye Miss American Pie...."
  • The wealthy English were known for their “Surprise Pies” in which live creatures would pop out when the pie was cut open. (I saw this on an episode of "The Tudors.")
  • At one time it was against the law to serve ice cream on cherry pie in Kansas. (Caroline Sweeney, what is up with your home state?)
  • The airplane Buddy Holly died in was named the “American Pie.” 
  • Boston Cream Pie is a cake, not a pie
  • Approx. $700 million in pies (approx. 186 million units) are sold in grocery stores every year. This does not include restaurants, food service or price clubs, only grocery stores. If you lined up the number of pies sold at U.S. grocery stores in one year, they would circle the globe and then some. (O.K., stupidest factoid EVER!)

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