For me, pie is the definition of comfort food. Shepherd’s pie, apple pie, McDonald’s pie, pot pie…and I’m already salivating. What I love about pie is, well, a lot of things. But most importantly, I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Humble pie is a thing for a reason. No matter what you bake into a pie, it’s practically impossible for it to be intimidating. Even strange creations like the British lamprey pie (which contains terrifying, parasitic, blood-sucking fish) sound kinda comforting and not *that* scary, because it’s just pie! We know it, we love it, we can’t live without it.

Although “American” food is ever-evolving and impossible to define, if it exists at all, I’m sure that pie is a part of it. Pie is baked into our culture, our slang, holding together the crust of our nation. I could go on, but I think this quote from a 1902 New York Times article says it best: “Pie is the American synonym of prosperity, and its varying contents the calendar of changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.” I’ve never felt more patriotic.

Of course, pie-adjacent dishes are served in countries and cultures across the world. It’s certainly not a purely American phenomenon. But pie does play a critical role in American food culture, and not just the apple kind. Which leads me to another thing I love about pie: the variations are practically endless. Chocolate silk, chicken pot, peach custard, lemon meringue, the list goes on. And this being America, a vast and varied land, regional specialties abound. I couldn’t possibly cover them all (trust me, I had to cut down this list a lot) but here’s my semi-comprehensive roundup of the most uniquely delicious regional American pies.

North Carolina: Atlantic Beach Pie

Atlantic Beach Pie is distinguished from your typical lemon meringue or key lime by its signature saltine crust. The thick, crispy, salty crust perfectly complements the tangy, sweet, and creamy filling. This pie is served all up and down the coast of Eastern North Carolina, where it’s typically just called lemon pie. The term “Atlantic Beach Pie” was popularized by Chef Bill Smith, at the Crook’s Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC. Smith told NPR that when he was growing up, it was commonly believed that eating any dessert (other than lemon pie) after a seafood dinner would make you very sick. It’s not clear how this belief came about, but any excuse to eat more of this delectable dessert is a good one.

Pennsylvania: Shoo-fly Pie

Shoo-fly Pie contains no flies, or shoes. The Pennsylvania Dutch dessert highlights flavors of molasses, cinnamon, and nutmeg with its sweet, gelatinous filling and delectable crumb topping. It’s often described as a crumb cake baked in a pie crust, which TBH sounds amazing. Some say Shoo-fly Pie’s unique name comes from a brand of molasses that was popular around the time of its creation in the late 1800s, while others say it’s because bakers have to constantly shoo flies away from the sweet filling while the pie sets. We may never know the true origins of Shoo-fly Pie’s name, but we definitely know that it’s delicious, as proven by its continued popularity over 150 years.

Ohio: Shaker Lemon Pie

Shaker Lemon Pie is both delicious and sustainable, using up every part of the lemon to create a tangy sweet delight. The Shakers were a 19th-century Protestant sect with a zero-waste philosophy. When they settled in Ohio in the 1800s, lemons were a particularly valuable and hard to obtain ingredient and had to be stretched as far as possible. This necessity resulted in the creation of Shaker Lemon Pie. Still served by home cooks across Ohio, this unique dessert is made with thin slices of whole lemon (peel and all), sugar, eggs, and flour. Some describe the taste as a mix between marmalade and lemon curd, and as a tart citrus lover (give me the zest!), I will be trying it ASAP.

Hawaii: Haupia Pie

Haupia is a Hawaiian dessert traditionally made with ground pia (Polynesian arrowroot) and coconut milk. Some describe Haupia as a cross between pudding and gelatin, but it’s really a dessert category unto its own. It also makes a delicious pie filling, particularly when layered with chocolate and topped with whipped cream, as in Chocolate Haupia Pie. This uniquely Hawaiian specialty has grown in popularity since the 1940s, and nowadays you can even order a Haupia Pie at McDonald’s (but only in Hawaii).

New York: Grape Pie

I love grapes, but I usually just eat them plain. Maybe frozen, if I’m feeling fancy. Or in the form of wine, if I’m feeling really fancy. But in Upstate New York, people prefer to eat their grapes in the form of pie. The Grape Pie Capital of the World is located in Naples, NY, and the sweet seasonal delicacy is served all across the Finger Lakes region. A single full-sized Grape Pie typically calls for two pounds of peeled Concord grapes. So I will not be making it at home. But if you happen to be in the Finger Lakes region, mark your calendars for the Naples Grape Festival in late September. The delightful annual festival celebrates all things grapes, with a heavy emphasis on pie.

Arkansas: Possum Pie

Possums get a bad rap, but they’re actually a super important part of the ecosystem. They eat rats, mice, cockroaches, and ticks — basically everything you don’t want in your neighborhood. So it’s very good that making Possum Pie doesn't require killing any possums. The no-bake dessert typically features a pecan shortbread crust filled with cream cheese, chocolate, and vanilla layers, topped with whipped cream. It’s apparently called Possum Pie because, like a possum playing dead, the whipped cream topping is hiding something — three delicious layers of filling. Possum Pie is a distinctly Arkansan specialty, rarely found outside the state. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Possum Pie can be traced back to 1974, when a very similar dessert was featured in a newspaper story about the Arkansas Dairy Recipe Contest (an event open to 4th-12th graders). It first appeared under the name Possum Pie in a 1983 restaurant review. So it’s quite possible that a recipe originally created by a child or teenager was being prepared in professional kitchens less than 10 years later. That’s pretty sweet!

New England: Marlborough Pie

Marlborough Pie is a very bougie apple pie. Or as the writer Clementine Paddleford put it, “a glorification of everyday apple.” Similar in texture to a pumpkin pie, it features an apple-infused custard flavored with lemon and sherry. I’m not drooling, you’re drooling. It’s unclear where the New England specialty got its name, though some say it might originate from the town of Marlborough in (old) England. Marlborough Pie dates back to the 1600s, long before the founding of the Marlboro cigarette brand in 1924. It was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, but experienced a dramatic decline in the 19th century, possibly due to the temperance movement (the recipe calls for a lot of sherry). I think it’s high time for a revival of this elegant dessert.