National Pie Day
Charlie Papazian in January 1975
National Pie Day is a "day to maintain America's pie heritage, pass on the tradition of pie making and promote America's love affair with pie." It is a day to bake and eat pies, try new recipes, and give pies to others. Charlie Papazian, who later went on to found the Great American Beer Festival, started the day in 1975 in his classroom, while teaching in Boulder, Colorado. He chose his birthday, January 23, as the day of celebration. In 1986, the American Pie Council began sponsoring the day, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Crisco. National Pie Day is also celebrated on December 1, but it is unknown why this date was also chosen or who chose it.
Pies are made up of pastry crusts filled with sweet or savory ingredients like fruits, custards, vegetables, meats and fish. The most common fruit pies in America are apple, blueberry, cherry, and peach, while banana cream is a favorite custard pie. Pumpkin pie is popular during autumn and winter, Key lime pie is a specialty of Florida, and Mississippi mud pie is beloved in the South. Pot pies often consist of chicken or beef with vegetables.
Ancient Romans made pies and may have learned about them from the Greeks. It is likely that the Greeks came up with pastry shells consisting of flour and water. However, shells were not edible with many early pies. Roman pies were often made in reeds, which were just made for holding fillings, not to be eaten. Early pies were almost all meat pies, and the Romans even included seafood such as mussels in their fillings. Although, the first published pie recipe, written in Rome, did not have meat, but was a goat cheese and honey pie with a rye crust.
Pies were in England by early twelfth century, where they were known as pyes. Common pies were filled with duck, magpie pigeon, lamb, and beef, and were spiced up with currants, dates, and pepper. The crust was called a "coffyn."
Pies were brought to the Americas by English colonists. Some pie crusts were not eaten at this time, just as had been the case in the past. Although fruit pies were likely first made in the 1500s, most of the pie recipes brought across the Atlantic Ocean were for meat pies. These pies were seasoned with nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, and some dried fruit. As the nineteenth century progressed, more and more fruit pies were being made. This reflected the regional and local foods of the country as it expanded across the continent. Pie is one of the most important American desserts today, and is such a big part of the culture that when something is seen as being very "American," it is often said to be "as American as apple pie."
How to Observe
There are many ways to celebrate National Pie Day, and they all involve pie!
- Bake a pie or pies. Try a new recipe or a type of pie you have never had before.
- Teach someone how to bake a pie, such as a child.
- Have a pie party and have each guest bring a pie.
- Give a pie to a new neighbor, a police officer or firefighter, or a friend or relative.
- Eat some pie at one of the best pie shops in the United States.
- Become a member of the American Pie Council.
- Plan in order to take part in the National Pie Championships.
- Watch the film Labor Day, which was promoted by the American Pie Council.