From the Back of the Drawer: A Pie Marker/Trimmer


Alexis Annis

Each week, we rummage through the dark corners of our kitchen drawers to bring you an enigmatic item. We ask you to guess what it is in our weekly  From the Back of the Drawer puzzle. To enter this week’s puzzle, visit this page. To read more descriptions of past items, visit this page. And, don’t forget to donate your odd items to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

This week, we found a pie marker and trimmer!

The art of pie making – filling flaky pastry with fruits and nuts or savory meats has inspired many inventions including pie weights, the pie bird, and this week’s find – a pie marker and trimmer patented in 1920 and invented by Evelyn L. Simpson from Waterville, Maine. The trimmer is designed to cut all surplus dough beyond the edge of the pie plate and form a finished corrugated edge around the pie.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word pie (pye) was in common use by 1362, with early origins thought to originate in Greece. In medieval England and Rome, the pie was not a sweet treat, but was filled with beef, lamb, duck, magpie pigeon and even mussels and other seafood items. Popular much later in early American history the pie crust was a sensible choice for settlers as it required less flour than baking breads, and could stretch other provisions from the pantry as well. Pies protective shell, as it were, also served to preserve food and keep fillings fresh.

The pie in American culture appears in song, slapstick comedy, and holiday traditions such as the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. That pie though, was most certainly missing from the original celebration in 1621, not making its way to the holiday table until the 19th century.

The pie has also been known to stir debate over the best way to achieve a flaky crust. Some use butter, others prefer shortening. Some wouldn’t dream of using a frozen pie crust, while others are intimidated by the challenge of trying to create that perfect, blue ribbon winning pastry.

Our Rating: A simple but useful tool. I’d like to have one in my own kitchen drawer.

Design: Small and dainty, this model is especially attractive with its Bakelite handle.

Originality: An inspired invention, begs the question how many pies did Evelyn Simpson bake?

Practicality: Although untested by us, it seems as though it would produce an aesthetically pleasing, professional looking piecrust.

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