National Rhubarb Pie Day on January 23 every year celebrates the delicious rhubarb pie. It is no coincidence that the king of pies is celebrated on the same day as National Pie Day. Rhubarb is used in pies so much that it is often called the pie plant. Surprisingly, rhubarb is also used in savory dishes such as with fried pork chops, although its sweet pie variations are best known. On National Rhubarb Pie Day, you can celebrate one of the world’s tastiest pies by stuffing your face with it. Don’t worry — no one will judge you.
History of National Rhubarb Pie Day
Rhubarb is the name of the fleshy stalks of plants from the Rheum genus. While no one knows the specific origin of the plant, we know that it was popular in Europe before the 18th century, when it was used largely for medicinal purposes. There are also some traces of it dating back to at least 2700 B.C. in China, Tibet, Mongolia, and the surrounding regions.
Rhubarb is one of those tricky plants whose identity as a vegetable or fruit is controversial. Botanically, it is a vegetable, but in culinary circles, it is used as a fruit. In 1947 though, a New York court officially ruled it as a fruit since that was what Americans primarily used it as. Businesses that imported rhubarb celebrated this declaration because they paid less tax if rhubarb was considered a fruit rather than a vegetable.
In 1772, Benjamin Franklin sent rhubarb seeds from Scotland to John Bartram, a friend of his who was a botanist in Pennsylvania. Rhubarb became even more popular in 1837 when a sweeter variety called Victoria rhubarb was introduced. However, because rhubarb needed a lot of sugar to offset its tartness, it didn’t spread as much until sugar prices started dropping.
We don’t know who exactly came up with the brilliant idea to make pies out of rhubarbs, but we are eternally thankful to them. Today, rhubarb pies are a traditional dessert in the U.S. In the words of John Cleese in the ‘Rhubarb Tart Song,’ “I want another slice of rhubarb tart. I want another lovely slice. I’m not disparaging the blueberry pie. But rhubarb tart is oh so very nice. A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart! A whatbarb tart? A rhubarb tart!”
National Rhubarb Pie Day timeline
Benjamin Franklin bestowed the U.S. with rhubarb when he sends some seeds to a botanist friend.
In her 1844 book, foremost writer, Child, calls rhubarb pies ‘dear pies’ because of the enormous quantity of sugar the recipe requires.
To solve some taxing issues, a New York Court solves the fruit-vegetable controversy around rhubarb by declaring it a fruit.
Cleese and The 1948 Show Choir sing their whimsical rhubarb tart song, which praises rhubarb pie and relates it to historical events and people.
National Rhubarb Pie Day FAQs
When is national strawberry rhubarb pie day?
National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day is celebrated on June 9 every year in recognition of the beloved American desert it is named after. This is different from National Rhubarb Pie Day, which is celebrated on January 23.
When is rhubarb in season?
Rhubarb is typically in season from mid-spring to mid-summer, when it is field grown. This means field-grown rhubarb will be in full bloom between late March and early April. However, if it is grown in a hothouse or greenhouse, it will be in season from late winter to early spring.
How do you thicken rhubarb pie filling?
A 1/3 cup of cornstarch will help to thicken the filling.
How to Celebrate National Rhubarb Pie Day
Make some rhubarb pie
Even if you’re not a master chef, you can celebrate National Rhubarb Pie Day by trying your hand in the kitchen. Pick any rhubarb pie recipe off the internet and get baking. Sweat it out and the kitchen, and then reward yourself with a taste of your very own rhubarb pie.
Have rhubarb pie whenever you want
Who says rhubarb has to be a dessert? Celebrate National Rhubarb Pie Day by eating rhubarb pie whenever you want. Have rhubarb pie for breakfast. Have it for dinner. Take it as a midday snack if you want.
Sing the “Rhubarb Tart Song”
The catchy tune is sure to put a smile on your face and some hunger for rhubarb in your stomach. It’s the perfect family fun to have before digging into your rhubarb pie dessert.
5 Facts About Rhubarb
A redder stalk means a sweeter flavor
Even though rhubarb is generally bitter, when its stalks are red, it has a sweeter taste.
It can mean an argument
Although it’s rarely used in modern lingo, rhubarb can mean a heated argument or dispute, especially in New York baseball circles.
Romans thought it was barbaric
The Romans called anyone who ate rhubarb a barbarian.
No rhubarb leaves in your pie
The leaves attached to the rhubarb stalk are very poisonous, so if you plant your rhubarb yourself, make sure to cut off all the leaves.
It’s great in wine
In 1896, S.P. Merman won first prize at the Douglas County Fair for his rhubarb wine, and in 1901, the Omaha Daily Bee proclaimed that rhubarb makes the most delicious wine.
Why We Love National Rhubarb Pie Day
It’s family fun
What can be more fun for the family than sharing a nice, tasty plate of rhubarb pie fresh from the oven? You can even take the fun a step further by baking your pie together as a family.
The world needs a little tarty sweetness
One of the things that makes rhubarb pie so amazing is its mix of sharp tart and delicious sweetness. But somehow, that mixture forms a wonderful tangy balance that we didn’t know was possible. Maybe the world needs a little sweetness, a little tart — and then, we can find the delicious balance that is rhubarb pie.
It’s a chance to stuff our faces
We don’t need an excuse to stuff our faces, but having one sure doesn’t hurt. On National Rhubarb Pie Day, we get to stuff our faces with all the delicious rhubarb pie we can get our hands on, and our taste buds thank us for it.
National Rhubarb Pie Day dates