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National Coconut Cream Pie Day, on May 8 every year, is devoted to the ultimate custard-and-cream concoction. On this day, we contemplate the sheer deliciousness of the coconut cream pie and, of course, help ourselves to a slice. It’s the beginning of warmer weather and longer days filled with languid hours that are perfectly punctuated by a piece of this cool, creamy pie. The basic ingredients for coconut cream pie are a custard made of coconut milk, sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and butter, topped with a pile of fluffy whipped cream and toasted coconut shavings. But it always ends up as more than the sum of its parts. Coconut cream pie is well-nigh magical, and that’s why it gets its own day in our calendar.
History of National Coconut Cream Pie Day
Even in-depth research doesn’t reveal the exact date of the first recognition of National Coconut Cream Pie Day, but the pie itself has been around a long while. Back in the 19th century, with advances in importing and exporting perishable goods, Americans and Europeans fell in love with tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples. Coconuts were ‘on the radar,’ but they were prone to go bad on long overland voyages and tended to be objects of confusion once in a person’s kitchen, for lack of recipe ideas.
The shipping problem was solved by a French export company in what is now modern-day Sri Lanka when their experts began to shred and dry coconut meat. This made the food much more accessible to American- and European chefs and cooks. The coconut’s popularity increased worldwide.
Its status as a ‘regular’ pie ingredient was cemented in 1895 when a Philadelphia miller received a shipment of coconuts as repayment for a debt from a client in Cuba. The miller set up a factory process for drying the coconut meat, began to distribute it, and became the catalyst for coconut-related recipes being printed in cookbooks and becoming universally popular. No one is sure who made the first coconut cream pie, but by the early 20th century, you could find them anywhere.
National Coconut Cream Pie Day timeline
In his tome “Topographia Christiana,” Cosmas Indicopleustes describes the “great nut of India” in reference to the coconut.
Recipes for ambrosia — a citrus-and-coconut salad — begin to appear in American cookbooks.
American botanist Orator F. Cook theorizes that the coconut originated in the Americas, citing the unlikelihood of pan-continental distribution by ocean currents.
In the film “Cast Away,” Tom Hanks’s character is nearly driven insane by the intermittent thumps he keeps hearing on the island floor at night, until finally realizing that it’s the sound of coconuts falling from palm trees.
National Coconut Cream Pie Day FAQs
What’s the difference between coconut water and coconut milk?
Coconut water occurs naturally within the seed, whereas coconut milk is a beverage or liquid processed from the coconut’s meat.
How do you make sure your coconut custard isn’t runny?
That’s where thickening agents come in. Both the egg yolks and the cornstarch in a typical coconut cream pie recipe serve to thicken the custard. Some chefs also swear by the use of cream cheese, which they say enhances the creaminess and flavor as well as guards against runniness.
Can you freeze coconut cream pie?
It’s not recommended. Both the custard and the cream tend to lose their texture if kept at temperatures that are too cold. However, a coconut cream pie does have a refrigeration life of up to four days, if kept loosely wrapped in foil in the fridge.
National Coconut Cream Pie Day Activities
Have a slice (or two)
This is a no-brainer for every food-related holiday. And they vary in the level of difficulty of laying your hands — and your fork — on the food in question. But we’ll tell you unequivocally, coconut cream pie is among the most worthy of going out of your way to get it. Mm-mm, good!
Have a go at baking a coconut cream pie
Especially if you’re timing it to be ready at a certain hour, this pie requires quite a delicate balance in preparation, considering that the crust, the custard, and the cream are all prepared separately, cooled, and then combined. But, once again, it’s a labor of love and it results — if all goes well — in one of the best sweet treats we know.
Join in the festivities online
Follow the hashtag #CoconutCreamPieDay to find a host of recipes, histories, and conversations about this delectable treat. You could even do a Zoom dessert party, with each participant nibbling on camera and chewing around a happy smile.
FIVE AMAZING FACTS ABOUT COCONUTS:
Coconut meat contains a concentration of cytokinins, a group of hormones that boosts plant development and helps plants fight pathogens.
Even sneakier than tomatoes
The coconut is not technically a nut, nor even a fruit — it’s a seed!
Good in a pinch
During shortages of plasma, coconut water has traditionally been used in its place in IV transfusions.
“You know what that looks like …”
Portuguese sailors originally attached the word “coco” to the seed, believing that the three indentations on its shell made it resemble the face of a mythical goblin of that name.
Falling coconuts kill about 150 people worldwide each year — twice the number of deaths by shark attacks.
Why We Love National Coconut Cream Pie Day
Baking is an art
Ask anyone who’s ever tried to make a souffle. Any baking endeavor requires the ability to multitask, a perfect sense of timing, and a chef’s preternatural ability to ‘know’ when their dish is ready to perfection. As you snack on your coconut cream pie, give a nod to the one who baked it.
It reminds us of palm trees and the ocean
If you haven’t ever had the chance to visit a tropical beach with its palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze, fantasizing about it while enjoying a coconut cream pie is the next best thing. Here’s an interesting fact — all coconut trees are palm trees, but not all palm trees are coconut trees.
It celebrates the simply delicious
We’ve found that a given individual either has a sweet tooth or does not. There are those that would rather have seconds of the dinner dish than indulge in dessert. But for those of us that love sweetness, the coconut cream pie has no equal.
National Coconut Cream Pie Day dates