The History of Pie

The origins of pie actually did not come from America, but has evolved over the years into what we now call the all-American pie. It is not something that was created to be American, but somehow, we have adopted this dessert as our own and commonly use the expression, “as American as apple pie.”

Pie has been around since about 2000 B.C. during the time of the ancient Egyptians. Between 1400 B.C. and 600 B.C., it’s believed pie was passed on to the Greeks and then spread to Rome around 100 B.C. The early Romans’ pies were sometimes made in “reeds” which were used for the sole purpose of holding the filling and not for eating with the filling.

The first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie. They 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.

Lemon meringue pie. Photo courtesy of jennyvierThe 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 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. Fruit pies or tarts (pasties) where probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.

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.”


This article is courtesy of The 2009 Great American Pie Festival will be held April 25 and 26 in Celebration, Fla., and will feature countless pie varieties and a never-ending pie buffet. It will be held in conjunction with the APC/Crisco® National Pie Championships (April 24-26), where commercial, professional, junior chef and amateur pie-makers will compete to earn the title of America’s best pie. Check them out for more pie related info!