Most Southern households will serve up some rich, dark pecan pie this holiday season. Some will give the pecan pie its proper place as the Crown Prince of desserts. Others will make it share space with pumpkin pies. One thing’s for sure: pecan pie is the Texas state dessert.
But when and where was this tantalizing taste tradition born?
Origins Shrouded in Mystery
There’s a little disagreement over the when and where. Pecan pies probably originated in Louisiana, where Native Americans introduced settlers to the tasty tree nut. (Technically pecans are a “drupe,” not a nut, but when is the last time you asked someone to pass the drupes?) They really took off among settlers when the Oak Alley Plantation was formed in 1837.
At this point the origin of the pecan pie gets a bit fuzzy. Some say it was a variant of the “chess pie,” favored by French settlers in New Orleans. This pie is made out of flour, sugar, butter, cream, eggs, and bourbon. The two pies certainly have a lot in common. But tracing the first published pecan pie recipe is a bit more difficult than pinpointing one of its ancestors.
One myth says Karo corn syrup invented the recipe to promote their product back in 1902. But a Ms. B published a recipe for pecan pie in the Ladies Home Journal as early as 1898. This pecan pie simply was not the one we know today, as it had more in common with a custard than the gooey, rich goodness we all love. Pecan pie as we know it didn’t start showing up in cookbooks until the late 1930s, though a source claims to have found one tucked away in a cookbook as early as 1886, and points out that French settlers in Louisiana were making “pecan candies,” (most likely, pecan pralines) even earlier.
At Goode Company Hall of Flame, we like to imagine a slow evolution of pie, something that developed slowly in the kitchens of brilliant homemakers across Louisiana and, eventually, Texas. We see them performing loving taste tests with honey and molasses as they experimented and learned what it took to truly make a pie that said “home.”
Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore
For many years, pecan pie was one of those treats you only saw at Thanksgiving. But pecan pie is too glorious to be locked inside a box like that. These days it’s a staple at many barbeques and family dinners, especially in Texas. It wasn’t named our official state dessert until 2013, but we’re not likely to let it go now that we’ve got it. Sorry, Louisiana. You’ll have to find a different official state dessert. This one’s claimed already.
Pecan Pie – Evolved
Our Brazos Bottom pecan pie has been a tightly-held family secret for many years. Food bloggers continue to rave about it (see here, here, and here). Many have tried to recreate it, only to fall short. We didn’t even tell Food Network when they did a spot on our pie! We don’t release the recipe and you won’t find it on the Internet.
But plenty of Texans tell us it’s the best darned pecan pie they’ve ever tasted. We’ll tell you this much: you’re not going to get there with one of those frozen, pre-made pie crusts. All of our crusts are homemade with love. We add a few secret ingredients all our own. And if you want one of your own this Thanksgiving, or any other day, we’ll ship it to you in your very own wooden box. That sturdy box will keep it safe and sound and ensure it’s as beautiful as the day it left our kitchen.
We may not know exactly where pecan pie came from. But we’re dedicated to creating the pinnacle pie experience today. Leave the Cool Whip in the fridge…you won’t need any toppings when you eat one of our pies. This pie doesn’t need any help delivering a rich, moist flavor with every bite.