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10 Facts About Pies That You Didn’t Know

Can you call yourself a true pie lover? Can you tell your Pâte Brisée from your Pâte Sucrée? Do you know why mince pies were once banned? Who were believed to be the very first pie eaters in the world?

Pie facts for everyone!

If you want to truly impress your family, friends, and fellow pie fans with some great pie-based knowledge, read on to discover weird, wonderful, and fascinating facts all to do with the favourite British staple - the pie!

1. The Romans were the first to invent the pie

We’ve got a lot to thank the Romans for. Not only did they develop roads and drainage systems, invent cement and the modern-day calendar, they also were the first to figure out that pastry stuffed with a delicious meaty filling was pretty tasty. Yes, the very first example of the meat pie as we know it today can be traced all the way back to Roman times.

2. Pie crust was first used as Tupperware

Before the perfect buttery, flaky pastry was lovingly created, the lid of the pie had a more practical purpose. The pastry itself was so hard and tough that it was basically inedible but instead served as a tub to seal in the food and keep it fresher for longer and was known as the ‘coffyn of paste’. People would prise off the pastry lid and discard it, then use the pie as a container from which they could eat whatever was inside. Nowadays, we know that a perfectly baked, melt-in-your-mouth pie casing can be the best bit!

3. Pie theatrics

In medieval times pies weren’t just for eating. Cooks used to be tasked with coming up with inventive ways to create not only delicious food but also entertainment to please their Masters. So birds and even dwarves would emerge from pies with great theatrics, much to the delight of those awaiting their supper. We’re not sure we’d want to eat a pie that a live bird had been scratching about in, but each to their own!

4. Pies, or is it Pyes?

Pies were actually termed ‘pyes’ in medieval England. It wasn’t until the 1500s that someone had the novel idea of filling a pie with fruit rather than meat, and it is thought that the very first cherry pie was sampled by Queen Elizabeth I herself!

5. Mince pies were once banned

An ancient legend tells the tale of Oliver Cromwell, who had the rather lofty title of Lord Protector of the Commonwealth post the defeat of King Charles I during the civil war. It is thought that Cromwell viewed eating mince pies as a sign of extreme gluttony and therefore banned the consumption of them during Christmas. Luckily the ban is no longer in place, and we can enjoy overeating mince pies during the festive season once more!

6. Eating humble pie

While the upper classes could enjoy rich venison meat, the leftover parts (heart, kidney, liver) of the animal would be whipped up and put into an ‘umble pie’, for the lower classes. However, it’s thought that the true connection is derived from the French word nomble, meaning 'deer's innards.’

7. Pies and rhymes

Pies would often pop up in old nursery rhymes such as ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’, and ‘Little Jack Horner.’ However nursery rhymes often had deeper meanings, such as commenting on the divisions in society, and even the dissolution of monasteries!

8. Stargazy pie

One of the most interesting pie traditions was created in Cornwall to commemorate a brave fisherman, Tom Bawcock. Tom used to head out in the stormy seas over Christmas to catch fish to ensure that the local people would have something to eat. In his honour, the Stargazy pie is eaten on the 23rd of December in the Cornish village of Mousehole. It’s a pie baked with seven types of fish, including whole pilchards whose heads stick out of the top of the pastry, their beady eyes staring at you, so you always remember just how courageous Tom Bawcock was!

9. ‘Death by pie’ - what a way to go!

There have been plenty of grisly deaths cemented into literature over time, but Shakespeare’s was perhaps one of the most inventive. In his play, Titus Andronicus, he bumps off two of the more unsavoury characters by baking them into a pie.

10. Pies throwing contests

The first World Custard Pie Championships were held in 1967 in a small village in Kent. Two teams of four would vigorously hurl pies at one another and be awarded points for a good hit, and deducted for those they missed. Nowadays, you’ll find lots of pie-based competitions taking centre stage at festivals and fetes, though interestingly, the pies used at the World Custard Pie Throwing Championships don’t actually contain custard!

Pie facts are best shared over pie

Now that you’re all full up on fantastic pie facts, why not invite your nearest and dearest over, tuck into an award-winning, hand-crafted pie from Mud Foods, and wow them all with your pie-based knowledge? Our mouth-watering range includes seasonal specials such as our Game Pie, as well as classics and old favourites including our Scrumpy Cheese and Onion Pie, Chicken, Ham, and Leek Pie and Steak and Ale Pie. All are jam-packed with delicious, fresh, carefully selected flavours and encased in our butter-rich shortcrust pastry.

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