History of National Lemon Cream Pie Day
Food historians believe lemon desserts have been around since the Middle Ages! Whipped cream, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer: it didn’t show up until the 16th century. It first appeared in recipes in Italy in the mid 1500s and then traveled to France and showed up in recipes there just after 1600. Somewhere between then and now, someone had the brilliant idea to marry them together in a way that’s basically sunshine baked into a pie dish.
While lemon custards, puddings, and pies have been made since Medieval times, meringue was perfected in the 17th century. Lemon meringue pie, as it is known today, is a 19th-century product. The earliest recorded recipe was attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy.
Travel writer Larissa Milne credits chef/entrepreneur Elizabeth Goodfellow for this pie. According to noted food historian William Woys Weaver, Goodfellow was “one of the most creative forces in American cookery during the early nineteenth century.” Her shop was unique. Unlike the many bakeries that supplied bread and daily baked goods, Goodfellow’s pastry shop provided elegant cakes, pies and sweets for Philadelphia’s high society parties.
While known for many treats, including jumbles (an early version of sugar cookies) and queen’s cakes, and individual spiced cakes flavored with brandy and madeira, her most lasting legacy is the advent of lemon meringue pie.
Food historian Becky Diamond refers to Goodfellow as “the mother of lemon meringue pie.” Lemon pudding was considered one of Goodfellow’s signature creations; she is credited with several varieties, whether served alone, or in a pastry crust as a “pie.” Lemons were a delicacy in the early 1800s, but readily available in a busy port such as Philadelphia.
National Lemon Cream Pie Day timeline
Philadelphia chef/entrepreneur Elizabeth Goodfellow comes up with her “signature creation” — lemon meringue pie.
Food writer Becky Diamond writes that future President Abraham Lincoln discovered the pie at an Illinois hotel while working as a lawyer, and loved it so much he requested for its recipe.
Following Elizabeth Goodfellow's death, lemon meringue pie enjoyed a few aliases, "iced lemon pie, lemon cream pie and lemon custard pie."
The iconic comedian's delicious and easy recipe featured in the USO Celebrity Cookbook.
National Lemon Cream Pie Day FAQs
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National Lemon Cream Pie Day Activities
Go to a diner
Cream pies of all kinds are a classic diner dessert. We happen to think this no-frills setting only enhances the enjoyment of a slice of pie. Find your local pie shop, grab a seat at the counter, and dig in.
Or bake one yourself
No matter whether you choose to go the above no-bake route or take on a more complicated recipe, lemon cream pies are basically fail-proof. They’re also a choose-your-own-adventure baking experience. You can go with a classic butter crust, or mix it up with a graham cracker crust. Want some extra tang to back up the lemon? Mix some sour cream into the filling. Feel like it needs a little extra elegance? Shave some white chocolate on top, or even try sprinkling it with coconut flakes.
Make a cocktail to match
If you feel like pairing an adult beverage with your pie (who wouldn’t?) try a Lemon Drop: pour vodka, fresh lemon juice, and sweetener (triple sec, simple syrup, or just plain sugar) into a cocktail shaker, give it a good shake, strain into a glass, and garnish with fresh lemon slices. It’s elegant, and deceptively easy.
Why We Love National Lemon Cream Pie Day
It’s a classic
Fine, there’s nothing as American as apple pie, but we’d put lemon cream high up on the list of classic and timeless desserts as well. And honestly, between the two of them, apple pie just sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it?
We can pretend it’s healthy
The main flavor profile is lemon, right? Well, lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, good for your body, and naturally antibacterial. They can also help you absorb iron, stimulate your liver, and might even have cancer-fighting properties. Sure, you could get these benefits by drinking lemon water, but pie is just more fun.
It’s a fuss-free dessert
High-end restaurants can fancy ‘em up, but lemon cream pies are about as simple as they come. If you’re craving one but feeling especially lazy, it’s as simple as a trip to the grocery store to pick up premade pie crust, fresh lemons, lemon pudding mix, and a can of whipped cream. Presto: no-bake, almost-no-effort lemon cream pie!
National Lemon Cream Pie Day dates