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19 Historic Pictures Of Pie That Will Leave You Fascinated And Hungry

No math required for the enjoyment of these pies!

Posted on March 14, 2019, at 11:58 a.m. ET

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Left: A model poses with a lattice pie for an advertisement in 1966. Right: Richard Baranski, 6, caresses a full belly after being crowned Cranberry Pie-Eating Champion upon eating a 10-inch cranberry pie in 15 seconds flat. The contest was part of a 1948 national celebration of cranberries.

As American as apple pie — it’s a phrase synonymous with American identity, aligned with those red-blooded, patriotic symbols like baseball, backyard BBQs, and bald eagles. But how did this sweet, buttery dessert rise to the level of an American icon? What is it about pie that conjures, by its mere mention, those American values we hold so dear?

The origins of the pie predate the United States by entire millennia with records of pielike dishes enjoyed among Egyptian societies as far back as the Neolithic Period, around 6,000 BCE. Later, pies were a staple in medieval Europe that were often served as savory dishes filled with meats like magpie or turtle. When the Pilgrims made their journey to the New World in the early 1600s, they brought with them family recipes along with apple seeds and other ingredients from Europe. Bakers also began to incorporate local berries and fruits native to America into their pies. While pies have since become a cornerstone of Thanksgiving celebrations, there are actually no recorded mentions of pies at the first Thanksgiving of 1621.

As consumerism modernized into the early 20th century, pictures like these aligned baking products for pie-making with American values as a mass-marketing strategy. Apple producers, baking suppliers, and other produce growers seized the opportunity to portray their products as vital to upholding American identity — and it worked. Advertisements quoted the fictional Betty Crocker: “If I were to create a coat of arms for our country, a pie would be its heraldic symbol.” During World War II, a phrase often repeated by soldiers when asked what they were fighting for (perhaps a little sarcastically) was “For mom and apple pie!”

“As American as apple pie” has since become more than just catchphrase. It’s become synonymous with the American dream in pursuit of happiness. But hey, chasing pie in the sky is always better than the alternative — “Let them eat cake.”

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

A photograph advertising the 1951 Grand National Baking Contest.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Left: A model poses with pie in 1934. Right: A young girl tastes a pie mixture on Dec. 28, 1946.

Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

Lucille Ball as Lucy Carmichael enters a baking contest on a 1964 episode of The Lucy Show.

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An advertisement image of a cherry pie from June 12, 1956.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

A pie-eating contest held at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago.

Underwood Archives / Getty Images

Bakers load 400 gallons of apples to make a giant apple pie in celebration of National Apple Week in Yakima, Washington, in 1927. The pie is 10 feet across and weighs 1 ton.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Two boys participate in a pie-eating contest at the 1950 Los Angeles Food Show.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Winners of the National Cherry Pie Baking Contest in Chicago on Feb. 21, 1953.

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Comedian Soupy Sales prepares to receive a pie in the face from musician King Curtis, circa 1961, in Los Angeles.

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A young boy receives a pie in the face during a community event in Denver on July 12, 1973.

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Actor Dottie Harmony takes a pie in the face at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, 1957.

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Singers Peggy Lee and Dean Martin perform a song using 22-inch sweet potato pie as a prop, 1949.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Left: Staffers of the Sunkist pie company in Chicago prepare pies on Feb. 4, 1949. Right: An advertising image of an older woman holding a freshly baked pie in the 1940s.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

A staff member of the Sunkist pie company of Chicago prepares a pie in 1949.

Denver Post / Getty Images

A woman displays pies at the Colorado–Wyoming Restaurant Convention on May 6, 1969.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.