Pies – 20,000 of them a day
Stories from my books

Pies – 20,000 of them a day

I should have posted this story last month because January 23 was National Pie Day but I just ran across it while proofreading the month of September 1885. One pie not listed in this story is Pinto Bean Pie, one of our favorites. It tastes kind of like a pecan pie but not as sweet. If you don’t tell there is half a can of pinto beans in each pie, no one will know.

The first two volumes of BYGONE STORIES FROM A KENTUCKY NEWSPAPER are finished and everything is finished on the third volume except for a bit of formatting and proofreading it one more time. I expect to publish volumes 1 and 2 sometime this week or early next week.

We continue to experience weird, almost balmy weather here at 7600′ in Colorado. We had a bit of snow a couple of days ago but it was mostly melted by afternoon except on the peaks.

20,000 PIES


Maysville, Kentucky

September 24, 1885


Twenty-thousand pies are made, sold and eaten in Philadelphia every day. There are five great pie factories and a large number of smaller bakeries.

“Philadelphia is a pretty good pie city,” said one of the largest bakers, “but I think New York and Boston are greater because in those cities more people eat out at restaurants. Still, our business is pretty large. About fifty horses and wagons are employed at it and I should say about seventy men, including bakers, plate cleaners, fruit cookers and the like. This force looks rather small but then it must be considered that one man can turn out a good many pies. For instance, in my place I can produce 100 pies every twelve minutes, all ready for the oven. The men earn $10 to $16 a week. A first-class baker commands about $16. The price per pie is about 14 cents apiece, regardless of kind.”

A waiter in a restaurant where an astonishing amount of pastry is consumed every day, when asked what were the most popular kinds of pies, replied, “All kinds. There’s a great variety of pies and a great variety of people. It’s hard to say what pie is more in demand than another. Pies have their seasons. The great winter pie is the mince pie. Mince pie sells from the beginning of cold weather till spring. Hot weather knocks the mince and it’s laid on the shelf.

All year pie: Raisin pie is a good all-year-round pie.

Emergency pie: Cheesecake. It is also a good all year pie. So is custard pie of various kinds — plain, lemon, and coconut.

Spring and summer pie: Rhubarb pie has a good run in the spring and early summer. It’s a juicy pie, much liked by boys. Old people are rather afraid of it. It’s the first of the fresh fruit pies, its only fault being a way it has of causing cramps. Fresh peach pie comes in a little later as do the other fruits, too many to mention. Pineapple and coconut oughtn’t to be forgotten. Nor sweet potato. And pumpkin, the grandest pie of all, I think.

Who eats pie? Mostly people under 50 and nearly everybody drinks milk with their pie. I’ve noticed most pie eaters are thin.

A once very popular pastry was called Washington pie. It was a very mysterious delicacy, having a thin, tough crust covered by an inch of compound resembling ground bread. It was highly flavored with cinnamon, probably for the purpose of disguising the taste of the unknown ingredients. A large slab was sold for 8 cents and immense quantities of it were consumed by small boys. Of later years it has almost entirely disappeared and its place in the pie economy has been taken by the mealy cheesecake, which possesses equally filling qualities and has the advantage of being composed of known materials.

. . . . .

Mealy cheesecake! Humph! I like cheesecake! What is your favorite pie?

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