Some pie lovers will be eating their favorite pie on February 20 during National Cherry Pie Day. Whether they eat it for breakfast, lunch or supper or a slice at every meal depends on just how much they love cherry pie!
It seems only right that we celebrate the cherry pie so close to Presidents Day as we all know the story (albeit untrue) of President George Washington and the cherry tree. Cherries were, however, one of his favorite foods.
According to the American Pie Council, the pie came to America with the first English settlers. The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans calling them “coffyns” like the crust in England. As in the Roman times, the early American pie crusts often were not eaten, but just designed to hold the filling during baking. It was during the American Revolution that the term crust was used instead of “coffyn.”
In the United States, cherry pie is often referred to as a “great American dish”. Recipe books have many different versions of recipes for cherry pie.
- Cherry pie is the fifth popular pie in the US – beaten only by Apple, Pumpkin, Pecan and Banana Cream.
- In the 19th Century, fruit pies were a common breakfast food eaten before the start of a long day.
- In the UK Oliver Cromwell banned the eating of pie in 1644, declaring it a pagan form of pleasure. For 16 years, pie eating and making went underground until the Restoration leaders lifted the ban on pie in 1660.
- At one time it was against the law to serve ice cream on cherry pie in Kansas.
- The wealthy English were known for their “Surprise Pies” in which live creatures would pop out when the pie was cut open.
- It is believed that the sweet cherry originated in the area between the Black and Caspian Seas in Asia Minor around 70 B.C. The Romans introduced them to Britain in the first century A.D.
- The English colonists brought cherries to North America in the 1600’s.
- The word ‘cherry’ comes from the French word ‘cerise,’ which in turn comes from the Latin words cerasum and Cerasus, the classical name of the modern city Giresun in Turkey.
- Records indicate that cherries were a prized food in a region of China dating back to 600 BC – fit for royalty and cherished by locals.
- There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries in the United States, but fewer than 10 are produced commercially.
- On average, there are about 44 cherries in one pound.
- In an average crop year, a sweet cherry tree will produce 800 cherries.
- While they have long been a popular dessert fruit, cherries were used for their medicinal purposes in the 15th and 16th centuries.
- Despite the short fruiting season, Americans consume an average of 1.5 pounds of cherries each year.
- The world’s heaviest cherry was grown by Gerardo Maggipinto (Italy) and weighed 0.76 oz on June 21, 2003.