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piefactitleNew York Times, December 24, 1871. A Manhattan pie-maker straddles the shift between artisanal and industrial production, and sheds some light on the mysteries of mince along the way.piefac1

See? Apple pie not even a close second to mince’s commanding market position. Granted, it is Christmas, but still. . . piefac2

Okay, score a point for the usurper. But “staple” doesn’t connote market leadership. cats
So inferably Charles Dickens once wrote something to the effect that cats are a primary ingredient of mincemeat. Any Dickens scholars out there happen to know where and where this scurrility was published? Anyway, this probably played a significant role in establishing mince as the most enigmatic of mystery meats.
piefac4So here is another reason why mince pie is slightly uncanny. Like the Twinkie of today, it is spookily immune to aging and deterioration. Shares a bit of dodgy DNA with pickled eggs on that count. Who wouldn’t feel a bit conflicted about eating an immortal cat-meat pie? piefac5


  1. It’s from The Pickwick Papers. According to Sam Weller, a pie seller he knows in London uses kittens instead of veal in his veal and ham pies–the 1837 version of the Kentucky Fried Rat. Mincemeat was not mentioned in that passage, although the little hand-pies filled with mincemeat known as Christmas pies are featured in the Christmas chapter.

    • Ah, splendid. Thanks, Melynda.

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