You Probably Wouldn't Recognize The First Pumpkin Pies

It's getting to be that time of year when just about every house you see has a pumpkin or two on the doorstep. And soon it will be Thanksgiving and pumpkins will cease to serve their decorative purposes and instead morph into a product for delicious consumption. Pumpkin pies are some of the most favorite and iconic holiday desserts, but the pumpkin pies of yesteryear looked a little different than the crispy, baked crust filled with pumpkin custard we enjoy today.

While History claims that pumpkins were probably involved in some way in the first Thanksgiving, it's doubtful that it was in the form of pie. The background of pumpkin pie comes not from American celebrations, in fact, but instead from the English and the French.

Tippin's Pies reports that it was during the 1670s that many English cookbooks featured "pumpion pie" recipes, of course using the old English term. For example, as History states, Hannah Woolley, an English author from this time period, included a recipe for "a pie filled with alternating layers of pumpkin and apple, spiced rosemary, sweet marjoram, and a handful of thyme" in her 1670 cookbook, "Gentlewoman's Companion."

From a phase to a craze: Pumpkin pie comes to the U.S.

Meanwhile, says History, over in France, the French were boiling pumpkins in milk before pouring the mixture into a pie crust. By the time the pumpkin pie had made its way to New England, recipes called for pumpkin, spice, and milk to be put into the 'hollowed-out' gourd and for it to be cooked over a fire. Tippin's Pies tells us that Frenchman Francois Pierre la Varenne, who wrote the cookbook "The True French Cook" in 1653, included a recipe for a "tourte of pumpkin" which called for pumpkin to be boiled with milk, strained, and mixed with sugar and butter, then poured into a pastry shell and baked.

Fast forward to 1796 in the U.S. and you'll finally find a pumpkin pie recipe that is akin to those we make today in Amelia Simmons' "American Cookery, by an American Orphan," which was the first American cookbook (via Tippin's Pies). Since then, pumpkin pie has continued to rise in popularity as an in-demand Thanksgiving dish to this day. Some might argue we're now on pumpkin overload, but we think the more we get of the sweet gourd, the better.