Sponsored by the American Pie Council (yes, that’s a real thing!), National Pie Day lets us enjoy one of our favorite desserts guilt-free. After all, we’re celebrating a national holiday!
While pie exists in some form all over the world, the United States has an inextricable relationship with the flaky dessert. From Don McLean’s epic song “American Pie” to expressions like “as American as apple pie,” our country embraces the pie — apple in particular — as a symbol of national pride.
So preheat your oven or visit your local bakery, grab a slice, and celebrate the simple, delicious pleasures of good pie.
One of the oldest prepared foods, pie shows up in written recipes dating back as far as the ancient Romans. The first known pie recipe was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie. The Romans made pies with a variety of meats, seafood, and fruit, and developed a dense pie called placenta, similar to cheesecake. At sumptuous Roman feasts, pie played a role in several courses.
Until recently, pie crust was mostly used as a vehicle for filling. Unlike many of today’s luscious, buttery crusts, early pie crusts often didn’t get eaten at all. The crust acted as a container to keep the meat moist and prevent it from burning.
Pies first appeared in England in the 12th century, still mostly filled with meat. The dubious origin of some pie fillings gave rise to jokes and horror stories, including the penny dreadful that would become “Sweeney Todd.”
When the Puritans and other English settlers fled for the New World, they took pie with them. But although no American Thanksgiving table is complete without sweet pumpkin and pecan pies, sweet pies didn’t make an appearance at the so-called “First Thanksgiving” and pumpkin pie didn’t become popular until the 1800s. Today, sweet pies overwhelmingly outsell savory pies, and pumpkin pie is an enduring fixture of the Thanksgiving meal.
Not to be confused with National Pi Day, National Pie Day has nothing to do with math and everything to do with that sweet American treat. Created in the 1970s by Charlie Papazian (who conveniently placed the day on his birthday), National Pie Day encourages us all to take a break with America’s favorite dessert.