A History Sweeter Than Pumpkin Pie

Posted by Tom Oryan on October 1, 2019

If you’re anything like me, no holiday season is complete without pumpkin pie. But where did this sweet treat come from? Well, I’ve done a little digging and discovered the interesting origin of everyone’s favorite holiday dessert. That’s right folks, this is the history of pumpkin pie. 

Pies in general first became popular in the middle ages. But they weren’t the tasty desserts we think of today. Back then they were meat pies with thick inedible crusts.  

 Fast forward to Medieval Britain and pies were filled with various gourds. Eventually, squashes, like pumpkin, from the New World became staples in British kitchens—bakers favored the sweeter and softer textured squashes over the previously used hard-to-work-with and bitter gourds.

But these early versions of pumpkin pie from Medieval Britain weren’t anything like the pie we eat today. Those pies were soaked in booze, had at least 16 eggs in each pie and were over-dowsed in pumpkin pie spices. As time passed, a new love for sweeter apple and pear pies replaced pumpkin pie in the hearts of the British population.

But just as the British were done with pumpkin pie, the American colonies were beginning their own love affair. By the early 18th-century pumpkin pie officially had a place at the American Thanksgiving table. In fact, in 1705, the town of Colchester in Connecticut famously postponed Thanksgiving one week because there wasn’t enough molasses to make pumpkin pie.

That love for pumpkin pie is just one of the reasons the first American cookbook, American Cookery, published in 1796 featured a pumpkin pie recipe that closely resembles the pie we eat today.

 Finally, in 1929 the booming canning industry in America changed the pumpkin pie scene forever. When Libby’s, a meat canning company in Chicago, canned the first pre-roasted pumpkin puree, Americans fell in love with the convenience of canned pumpkin.

I’m not sure how pumpkin pie will continue to evolve. Maybe the current evolution is all these tasty pumpkin-flavored treats popping up all over. All I know is my taste buds are happy about it!

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