The pie has been one of America’s, and the world’s, most loved desserts of all time. The diverse amounts of flavors that the pie offers the home cook is unrivaled by any other dessert. Naturally, this post looks into the most popular pies of the 20th century, and tries to identify some of the reasons for the ups and downs.
The first thing to catch my eye after looking at this graph was that apple pie was on top for virtually the entire century. Additionally, if you separate the “flavor” adjectives (apple, pumpkin, lemon, and blueberry) from the others (economic, humble, whole, a, inch, and cap), you’ll see that the flavor pies follow a very similar trend. Almost like clockwork, the flavors (most notable of being apple and lemon) begin heading upwards in popularity in 1930 and peak around 1944. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that this is the exact same time period used to describe the Great Depression. The depression left many people poor and hungry, so they resorted to improvising. After looking around for some depression era recipes, I’ve found that it was very common during the time to fake a pie crust with ritz crackers, resulting in a cheaper, yet still delicious baked pastry. After the peak in 1944 however, the flavors bottomed out in 1965 until they began to plateau to the position they are in today. The decline could be attributed to the culture becoming more experimental after the war. Americans were finally able to afford a larger variety of food, so naturally what was popular at the time diminished.
Pie will always be an ubiquitously loved dessert. It has been for the past centuries, and the future only holds more ups and downs for the delicious pastry.