History of the Apple Pye

Apple Pye, also known as apple tarts have appeared since the Middle Ages.

1381 – 14th century pies were substantially different from pies today. They didn’t contain any sugar, and the outer crust, known as “coffins” were not meant to be consumed. The coffins were made as a container for the apple filling. Sugar was extremely expensive at this time.

1545 – Sugar was more affordable in the 16th century, allowing for a sweeter pie.

1590 – Robert Green (1558-1592), a famous English dramatist and poet, wrote the following in his prose called “Arcadia”: “They breath is like the steame of apple-pyes.”

1620 – When the English colonists arrived in North America in the 1600s, they found crab apples. Crab apple trees are the only native apples to the United States.

1700s – Back in the 1700s, Apple pudding and Marlborough pudding were popular. These desserts were baked in crust, similar to apple pye, the main difference being the inclusion of eggs to the filling.

1713 – The poem called “Apple Pye”, by William King (1663-1712), an English poet appeared in the pamphlet called The Northern Atlantis (York Spy):

“Of all the delicates which Britons try”
“To please the palate of delight the eye,”
“Of all the sev’ral kings of sumptuous far,”
“There is none that can with applepye compare.”

1759 – Dr. Israel Acrelius, author of the A History of New Sweden; or, The Settlements On The River Delaware, writing home to Sweden in 1759 an account of the settlement of Delaware, said:

“Apple pye is used throughout the whole year, and when fresh Apples are no longer to be had, dried ones are used. It is the evening meal of children. House pie, in country places, is made of Apples neither peeled nor freed from their cores, and its crust is not broken if a wagon wheel goes over it.”

1796 – The 1796 cookbook called “American Cookery”, by Amelia Simmons had two recipes for apple pye and one recipe for Marlborough pudding:


1890s – According to the historians of the Cambridge Hotel in Washington County New York, Professor Charles Watson Townsend, dined regularly at the Cambridge Hotel during the mid 1890’s. He often ordered ice cream with his apple pye. Mrs. Berry Hall, a diner seated next to him, asked what it was called. He said it didnt have a name, and she promptly dubbed it Pie a la mode. Townsend liked the name so much he asked for it each day by that name. When Townsend visited the famous Delmonico Restaurant in New York City, he asked for pie a la mode. When the waiter proclaimed he never heard of it, Townsend chastised him and the manager, and was quoted as saying; “Do you mean to tell me that so famous an eating place as Delmonico’s has never heard of Pie a la Mode, when the Hotel Cambridge, up in the village of Cambridge, NY serves it every day? Call the manager at once, I demand as good serve here as I get in Cambridge.” The following day it became a regular at Delmonico and a resulting story in the New York Sun (a reporter was listening to the whole conversation) made it a country favorite with the publicity that ensued.