Friday fun

For the love of pie: Sara Lee celebrates an American favourite on National π Day

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The hilarious act of 'pieing' has its origins in silent movies. Pic: GettyImages/ZoneCreative
The hilarious act of 'pieing' has its origins in silent movies. Pic: GettyImages/ZoneCreative

Related tags: Sara lee, pies, frozen bakery

March 14 is more than just a celebration of a transcendental number or Einstein's birthday – it’s also a reason to talk about pie.

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery is using National Pi Day (March 14) to celebrate that its Traverse City, MI bakery has delivered more than one billion pies since it was built in 1962 – enough pies to circle the earth 10 times.

National Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant (the approximate ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is celebrated on March 14 in synergy with the first three digits of Pi: 3, 1 and 4.

According to the producer of frozen bakery and desserts, pie is experiencing a renaissance.

Datassential’s 2019 Desserts Report notes that nearly 40% of US restaurant operators place pie among their top three best-selling desserts, while Mintel reports that 41% of Americans claim to consume pies as a snack between meals.

Cutie pie

“I’m quite impressed by the increased pie enthusiasm we see in the market​,” said Ryan Malone, chief marketing officer for Sara Lee Frozen Bakery.

“While there’s a nostalgic, simplistic elegance to classic pies, we’ve also been working on some fun, amped up creations that help chefs take their dessert menus to the next level, such as a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with Citrus-Honey Sriracha Sauce.”

The company’s Seasonal Favorites programme features 130 pies for every occasion, ranging from Gourmet French Silk Pie to Chocolate Peanut Butter Crème de la Cream Pie.

Raise your Pie-Q:

  • Historians have traced the roots of pie back to the ancient Egyptians around 6000 BC, where nuts, honey and fruits were encased in a rough bread dough. Drawings of this are etched on the tomb of Ramses II.
  • However, historians believe the Greeks actually originated pie pastry.
  • The first pie recipe – a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie – was published by the Romans.
  • ‘Pyes’ appeared in England as early as the 12th​ Century. The crust of the pie was referred to as ‘coffin’.
  • Shakespeare created a warden (type of pear) pie – flavoured with mace, nutmeg, ginger, prunes, raisins and saffron – for A Winter’s Tale.
  • The Pilgrims introduced pie to America. It has become so much a part of American culture that the saying ‘as American as apple pie’ is commonly used.
  • Nearly one-fifth of Americans claim to eat pie one or more times a week.
  • Apple pie is still the all-time American favourite, followed by pumpkin, chocolate, lemon meringue and cherry.
  • Apple pie consistently remains one of the top three desserts on restaurant menus, surpassed only by chocolate cake and brownies.
  • The world’s largest (meat) pie weighed more than 10,5kg and was made by students from Stratford-upon-Avon Catering College in the UK in 1998.
  • Throwing a pie in a person’s face – called ‘pieing’ – has been a staple of film comedy since the early days when the visual gag was perfectly suited to silent movies. The first known pie fight appeared in the 1909 movie Mr. Flip.
  • ‘Eat humble pie’ was derived from a 14th​ Century pastry containing ‘numbles’ or ‘umbles’ (animal organs), typically consigned to the poor. It’s assumed the idiom evolved because of its similarity to the word ‘humble’.

Sources: Technomic’s 2019 Desserts Consumer Trend Report; Datassential 2019 Dessert Report, American Pie Council

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery is an industry-leader of frozen bakery and desserts, under a family of brands, including Sara Lee, Van’s Foods, Chef Pierre and Bistro Collection, Superior on Main and Cyrus O’Leary’s.

The company is headquartered in Chicago and has R&D facilities and bakeries in Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington.

Using carefully sourced ingredients and time-honoured recipes, the company is committed to making life’s moments a little sweeter.

Related topics: Convenience, Manufacturers, Markets

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