Apple pie wasn’t invented in America, but apple pie does have a long important history in America and has been used as a cultural icon since the early 1900’s.
Was Apple Pie Actually Invented in America?
Apple pie wasn’t invented in America. Pie was eaten by ancient Egyptians, and recipes for dutch apple pie go back centuries. Despite this, since the 1900’s, Apple Pie has been used as an America symbol.
What Does “American as Apple Pie Mean”?
Despite its foreign origins, apple pie has a rich history in the United States of America. From the first colonist bringing over apple seeds, to immigrants bringing over the apple pie recipes we know today in the 17th and 18th century, the apple pie has become part of the American experience.A video about “American as Apple Pie”.
Apple Pie and Other American Icons (Not Invented in America)
Apple pie, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza are all iconic American foods. While the origins of each have roots in other nation’s histories, they have become part of American culture.
FACT: Neither apple pie, nor hot dogs, nor hamburgers, nor pizza, were actually invented in America. Baseball is only partially American (the game “base” it is based on is an English game). All of these icons in their modern form are symbolic of America, but their origins tend to span the globe. America is a young country of immigrants who have drawn influences from all over the world to create something uniquely their own.
The Origin of Pie
Pie isn’t something new. Many culinary traditions used a mixture of either clay or water-based pastry as a covering for meat that was to be cooked over an open fire or in an oven. This covering was not meant to be eaten, and was removed before the meat was served. We know that the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all ate pie. We can assume that, as soon as man discovered how to process grain and combine it with protein or fruits, man discovered pie. Even hunters and gatherers could have easily combined fruits, grains, and fats into one pie-like mixture.
Speculation aside, the first pie recipe was printed by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie. Word must have spread over time as by the 1100’s many pies started to appear in England.
FACT(-ish): The square root of pi and the square root of pie are the same (divide the circumference of perfect circular pie by its diameter and then square that number).
Meat Pies to Fruit Pies
The most popular form of pie wasn’t actually a fruit pie, it was a meat pie. If a pie crust was made with fat as well as grain and water, it became pleasant to eat. In addition, pie stayed warm for a long time and meat pie was a nutritious lunch that could be eaten with the hands.
The crust of the pie was referred to as “coffyn” (coffin). There was usually more crust than filling, just as there is often more hamburger than bun. Often these pies were made using fowl. The legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles.
Fruit pies weren’t seen until after meat pies has already been a dietary staple in European countries like England. The Cornish Pasty (meat and/or vegetables encased in a round of dough folded in half, crimped, and baked) has been eaten for centuries.A video discussing the history of meat pies, apparently no one discusses the history of non-meat pies in video format.
Modern Fruit Pies
We start seeing modern kinds of fruit pies in the late 1300’s. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was a popular word in the 14th century.
By the early 1500’s we start finding recipes for the dutch apple pie which closely resembles the modern American pie. Around this time English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.
The Dutch Apple Pie
The closest and oldest relative we can easily identify of the modern apple pie is the dutch apple pie.
A recipe in a late medieval Dutch cookbook ‘Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen’ (from around 1514) is almost identical to modern recipes.
From here tradition spreads to America.
The American Apple Pie
The first English settlers and early colonists used “coffins” to bake pies in, but like the early English and others, they didn’t eat the “crust”, they used it to simply hold the filling while it cooked.
The apple pie probably became the pie we know today when recipes were brought to the colonies by the British, Dutch, and Swedes during the 17th and 18th centuries.