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wapo 1 12 08wapo 1 12 08 2Washington Post, December 12, 1908. Okay, now we’re moving onto the deep historical structures undergirding the scandalous aura of mince pie. The first thing to note is that present-day cultural conservatives who fret about the “war against Christmas” (e.g. Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin) have got it all wrong. This great nation of ours was founded by Christmas-hating Puritanofascists, and a conservatism worthy of the name would return to that agenda. Death to Rudolph!wapo 1 12 08 3
Note how mince pie automatically receives top billing. Again, I assert, mince was indisputably the iconic American pie prior to WWII, with apple taking only third place behind pumpkin. (Note to self: Look into the provenance and vintage of the expression “as American as apple pie.”)wapo 1 12 08 4

wapo 1 12 08 5
This is interesting and possibly significant. If mince pie was “aristocratic” and apple pie “democratic,” then the decline of mince and the rise of apple can be tied to rise of triumph of cultural democracy in the 20th century (see JosĂ© Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses) and the breakdown of 19th century cultural hierarchy. But it’s a little more complicated than a simple mass rejection of elite taste. As we have seen in prior posts, the industrialization of mince production drastically reduced the pie’s social standing, redefining it as laddish and risky beanery-and-diner fare. And as our writer here notes, this had everything to do with the global transportation revolution, which inflated the value of once rare spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, etc. By the by, I never see people eating apple pie with cheddar cheese anymore. Is it because I’m Canadian that I grew up regarding sharp cheddar and not ice cream as the default topping for apple pie? Anyway, try it if you never have. Get something sharp and imported, not the bland waxy stuff that’s marketed as sharp cheddar in these United States.
wapo 1 12 08 6
I’ve never heard of this Lincoln pie before. Seems to have enjoyed an even lower reputation than industrial mince as a catch-all for leftovers and kitchen refuse. By the way, that’s what you’re getting when you select the rum balls from a fancy-ass pastry cart: stale mashed-up dessert leftovers doused with cheap booze. I’m loving those aggregated pie statistics, especially the 14-mile-high tower of pie.
wapo 1 12 08 7 Pompion is French for pumpkin, though they also call ’em citrouille.
Class dismissed.

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6 Comments

  1. This is by far the most comprehensive look at pie, mince or otherwise, I’ve ever seen in one place. However, I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble getting past these four words: “laid away to ripen”. Fruit ripens. Some cheeses ripen. But I don’t think pie is the sort of thing that should ever ripen.

    • I hear you. But consider this: we’re talking about people who preferred to hang up their cuts of beef and let them get a bit moldy on the exterior before carving off a nice steak. And mincemeat was made with meat at this stage in the game.

  2. I had trouble getting past the phrase “Pumpkins and their resulting pies” ; the beauty of it dropped me to my knees.Can we get those pie stats converted to football fields? I forgot the formula.The mince pie through history is getting pretty intense.I have a feeling this thing is going right back to DaVinci.

  3. Yeah: Turns out there’s not much in the past that can’t be re-examined by way of mince.

  4. Good one.

    • Wit-woo!


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