Pumpkin Pie is a classic American holiday dessert. We all love to eat it, but have we ever stopped to think where it came from? Who do we have to thank for this creation? With the recent creation of "clear" pumpkin pie, I have wondered how this dessert started and how it claimed its place on every Thanksgiving dinner table. So, here is the complete history of pumpkin pie.

Early History

1621 The settlers of Plymouth Plantation did not even consider the humble pumpkin as a food source until many of them became ill/died in the first winter in America. Once the Native Americans gifted them this fruit, they made (kind of) pumpkin pies by stewing the pumpkin's insides and then filling the hollowed out pumpkin shells with milk, honey and spices. Then they baked it over hot ashes. There was actually no such thing as pastry crusts in the colonies back then!

1651 Francois Pierre la Varenne, a famous French chef and cookbook author, put a recipe for a pumpkin pie in his cookbook Le Vrai Cuisinier Francois (The True French Cook). This is the first published recipe to include a pastry crust. It read:

“Tourte of pumpkin – Boile it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds; let all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste; bake it. After it is baked, besprinkle it with sugar and serve.”

By the 1670’s the “pumpion pie” was featured in many cookbooks in Europe, but not in America.

1670 Hannah Woolley wrote an book for women called "The Gentlewoman's Companion." This book includes tips and tricks for the 17th century woman's everyday life. It also contains a recipe for pumpkin pie! Woolley suggests making a layered pie, with layers of pumpkin, apple, and herbs. 

1796 The first American cookbook by Amelia Simmons was published in America, and it included pumpkin pie! Simmons’ “pompkin puddings” were the closest thing so far to the pumpkin pie filling that we know and love today.

1827— Sarah Josepha Hale, an abolitionist and Thanksgiving fan (she worked to get it approved as a national holiday), wrote about pumpkin pie in her anti-slavery novel titled “Northwood.” Here she described a Thanksgiving table scene with many desserts, but said “the pumpkin pie occupied the most distinguished niche.”

1842— Lydia Maria Child, another abolitionist, wrote a famous poem titled “Thanksgiving Day,” in which she described the excitement that she feels for Thanksgiving. She perfectly captured that feeling that I think we can all relate to when we see that glorious dessert: “ Hurrah for the fun!/ Is the pudding done? / Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!” 

Modern Pumpkin Pies

1929— Libby's, the canned foods brand, was producing mostly canned meats. However, in 1929, Libby's began producing canned pumpkin puree, so that households could make pumpkin pies more efficiently. #innovation!

2017— Alinea, a non-traditional, creative restaurant in Chicago, developed a clear pumpkin pie. Created by Chef Simon Davies using molecular gastronomy techniques, this pie confuses your mind and taste-buds. It looks like plain gelatin, but it tastes like a traditional pumpkin pie.

So there's that complete history of pumpkin pies. If you love pumpkin pies (or really any other kind of pie), send us pictures of them on Instagram at @spoon_bulldogs. Happy pumpkin pie season!