REO Top Ten: Pies

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Thanksgiving may primarily be about a heart attitude, but is there any image we associate more with the day than food?  And is there any food other than turkey that we think about more than dessert? And is there any dessert we love more at Thanksgiving than pie?

With that in mind, REO had another round of voting with abrasive arguments, snide comments and manhood questioning. All over pie. Here are the ten that came out on top, in reverse order:


 10. Apple Pie

Gowdy and I had a hard fought battle over who would write a tribute to the goodly apple pie. In the end, I slew him with my gleaming scimitar and then ate some apple pie. Kidding. I didn’t slay him and I haven’t had apple pie in some time.

I have never made an apple pie, but I have had the honor and privilege of being on the receiving end of masters of the art of apple pie cookery. In my mind, there are few pies as American as apple pie. Maybe pumpkin, pecan, or cherry. For my money, though, apple pie beats out these worthy opponents as far as U.S. citizenship. The apple pie can be deserved in a variety of different and very delicious ways. I have personally had so many superb types and styles that it is difficult to say an apple pie absolutely has to be in such and such a way to be a work of art. Two things, however, I do consider crucial in all varieties of apple pie: 1) A good, substantial crust and 2) a side helping of vanilla ice cream. This second is an extremely important issue. There is no adequate substitute. Anything else is uncivilized and un-American. (Ben Plunkett)


9. Key Lime Pie

I will be the first to admit that Key Lime pie is not for everyone. Unfortunately, all great people and even great foods have their detractors. After all, many are called, but few are chosen. If you like a bit of sour with all that sweet then this is the dessert for you. That delicious graham cracker crust puts it over the top. If Key Lime pie is wrong then I don’t want to be right. (Mike Lytle)


8. Cherry Pie

Maybe apple pie is more “all American” but cherry pie tastes so much better that it should be the pie that represents our great nation in all international pie competitions. Nothing says THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA better than a homemade cherry pie with lattice crust cooling on the window sill of a little house out in the country. Topped with vanilla ice cream or even whipped cream cherry pie never disappoints. The awful 80s rock band Warrant named a terrible song (and album) after this great dessert but even that travesty could not ruin it for me. My only regret is that I did not fight harder to move this higher up on our list.  (Mike Lytle)


7. Snickers Pie

Snickers won our best candy bracket so the built-in taste of Snickers in anything is going to be gold. I didn’t grow up with it in pie form so for the last few years I have had to make up for decades of no Snickers pie. I often look for Snickers flavored anything when going to a place that offers deserts and I am often rewarded. So putting the best candy with one of the best forms of a dessert is a can’t miss. And it didn’t miss, landing in our Top Ten. (Gowdy Cannon)


6. Cheesecake

Back in 2016 I did a March Madness bracket on best dessert and cheesecake won. By a landslide. It dominated the field like the ’98 Yankees. The final score of the championship was 74-43. It was like watching Reagan vs. Mondale.

I heartily concurred with the result. Candy excluded, I don’t know that there is anything I enjoy more for the old sweet tooth than a well-done cheesecake. Having Eli’s and the Cheesecake Factory close to my Chicago address is sublime. Heck, I’ll even take the $8.99 version from Aldi. Cheesecake is that good.

True story: one of my friends that used to live in Chicago wept the first time she saw a cheesecake at Eli’s. Literally cried. I mean real tears, streaming down the face as if watching the Friends episode where Ross and Rachel break up. What more can you say for this dessert?  (Gowdy Cannon)


5. Peanut Butter Pie

I’ve always enjoyed Peanut Butter pie. I’m a big fan of pie and of peanut butter, so the combination of the two is right in my wheelhouse. That said, a few years ago, I was at my mother’s house and she had baked a pie earlier that day from a new recipe. It was a peanut butter pie with around half the sugar as the typical peanut butter pie. My mom is a great cook but I doubted that a pie with half the sugar would be something I would enjoy. I also was pretty confident it was another of my mother’s attempts to help me to do something about some of my baby fat that had proven dreadfully difficult to get rid of. 1 My love of pie overruled my suspicion of my mother’s true motives and I ate the pie. After two pieces, I pushed away from the table with complete confidence that it was the best peanut butter pie I had ever tasted. (Phill Lytle)


4. Fudge

 

We were unable to find a volunteer to write the blurb for Fudge Pie, even though it finished in our top five. So, in place of another well-written, witty, and intelligent blurb, we are going to peel back the curtain and let you see how the sausage is made at REO. Here is a sampling of our discussion about who should write the blurb:

 

Mike Lytle: I like fudge pie alright but not enough to write a blurb for it. Who was pushing it during the bracket?

Ben Plunkett: Good question. I don’t even remember ever eating it.

Phill Lytle: Fudge beat out:

Banana Cream (1st round)
Strawberry (2nd round)
Peanut Butter (3rd round)

It lost to Pecan in the Final Four.

I’m pretty sure I voted for it in the first two rounds as I don’t like those other pies. I know I voted for Peanut Butter over it. (I was the only one evidently as PB lost 1-5 against Fudge in the elite 8.)

Ben Plunkett: What in the world was I thinking? Not only haven’t I tried Fudge Pie, I love Peanut Butter Pie.

after a few minutes of doing a bit more research on how the vote went down…

Phill Lytle: I was wrong. I voted for Fudge. I know why. At that time, I hadn’t tasted my mom’s Peanut Butter pie – which is far superior to any Fudge pie I have ever had. Ben, you voted for PB over fudge. You were the lone PB supporter.

Nathan Patton: FWIW (I don’t know if it’s already been mentioned, but I’m too lazy to check) today is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day… also National Absurdity Day, though that’s not as relevant… though maybe it is…

 

And there’s your blurb for Fudge Pie.


3. Chess Pie

Chess pie is above all the tired and mealy-mouthed protestations made by foodies, elitists, and health conscious. They decry its simplicity. They denounce its unashamed reliance on ingredients we have been told are no longer acceptable to a refined and mature palate. Chess pie hears their high-pitched, meddlesome squawking and rises above the fray. Chess pie hears the noise and responds with silence. Chess pie is itself the answer. Before its face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?

Check mate. (Phill Lytle)


2. Pumpkin Pie

This remains by far my favorite kind of pie. My love affair with this slice of lusciousness began with my mom’s masterpieces. These have yet to be beat in mine eyes. However, (and this an incredibly strong “however.”) there is something about any pumpkin pie when capably done that earns it this elite place on our list. That flawless blend of pumpkin and spices. That sweet, sweet ooze in the mouth. That harnessing in pie form of the fall and Thanksgiving spirit. Perfection. (Ben Plunkett)

1. Pecan Pie

A great pecan pie can be difficult to make.  Actually, I don’t know this to be true from first-hand experience.  I’ve learned it’s best to only be involved in the of eating of pies and not the process of making pies.  Which is fortunate for me because I get to reap the delicious rewards from excellent bakers like my wife and mother.  It’s also fortunate for the world because they are not subjected to my pitiful culinary creations.  Some of my baking attempts ended up as twisted monstrosities.  I’ve yet to see masses brandishing pitchforks and torches gathered outside my house, though the sight wouldn’t surprise me.  But I digress!  My taste buds tell me that not all pies are created equal.  Some varieties are better than others.  And even among a specific variety like pecan, some turn out superior to others.  They also inform me that when a pecan pie has just the right balance of taste, consistency, and sweetness then it’s the pie which all others look up to in envy!  Like so many things in life balance is the key.  “I am one with the Pie and the Pie is with me.”  “May the Pie be with you… always.” (Mark Sass)

  1. Side note: When baby fat hangs around for nearly 40 years, can we honestly still call it baby fat? I contend that’s a bit of a gray area.

Gowdy Cannon

I am the pastor of the bilingual ministry of Northwest Community Church in Chicago. Our church is intentional in trying to bring English and Spanish speakers together in worship and community. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married two years. I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) classes to adult immigrants in my community. I am, at times, a student at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chic-Fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

23 thoughts on “REO Top Ten: Pies

  • November 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm
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    I humbly suggest the following reordered list: 1, 2, 10, 5, 6, 7, 9, 4, 8, 3 (with honorable mentions for Million Dollar Pie, Buttermilk Pie, Custard Pie, and the foursome of Lemon Meringue, Lemon Cream, Chocolate Meringue, and Chocolate Cream Pies).

    (And thanks for bringing this out around lunchtime; now I’m really hungry.)

    (And this reminds me that everyone likes pie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxIhXjIqmiI)

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    • November 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm
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      I’m going to assume your list is from bottom to top so that would mean Chess Pie is number 1 on your list. That’s the only logical conclusion because no sane person would ever have Chess Pie as the number 10 spot. Right? RIGHT?!?

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  • November 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm
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    Well done, gentlemen. Pie is absolutely worthy of your time and writing abilities. I’m pleased to see you took it on and have paid great tribute to so many pies. One small problem though, cheesecake is not pie. It’s cake, as its name implies. I realize some pies have graham cracker crusts just like cheesecake, so it’s a little confusing. While cheesecake is a delicious and worthy dessert, I would recommend replacing it on your list with peach pie and including it in a future cake or general dessert tournament.

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    • November 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm
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      My ESL students once asked me if cheesecake was pie or cake and I got that look on my face like the Public Defender in My Cousin Vinny. I trust the collective wisdom of REO on these things so I’ll be interested in seeing what they say.

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    • November 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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      What exactly makes it a cake other than cake being in the name?

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      • November 20, 2017 at 4:36 pm
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        Just keep in mind that there is such a thing as “urinal cakes” and that does not make it a cake for consumption.

        There is also the verb “cake” which has a negative connotation.

        And now, as a result of reading this article, I am craving cheesecake, one of my favorite pies.

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        • November 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm
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          In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful that it’s pie you are craving. I feared you were going in another direction with that.

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    • November 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm
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      There was much debate about cheesecake. We scoured the internet to find a consensus and even that proved mostly unhelpful. We finally landed on it being a pie because it checks most of the pie boxes. As Fine Cooking put it, “So, in short, a cheesecake is a pie. It can also be a cake, but it can’t not be a pie.” You can read the rest of their argument here: http://www.finecooking.com/article/cheesecake-or-cheesepie

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      • November 20, 2017 at 3:16 pm
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        I just did about 10 minutes worth of reading (that’s my limit on this kind of topic) and I’m fine with it as a “pie”. Much more than cake. “Custard” seems to be the closest category but pie is close enough.

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  • November 20, 2017 at 5:36 pm
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    It’s hard to argue with Pecan Pie, but I would have,Cherry Pie very high on the list.

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  • November 20, 2017 at 6:06 pm
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    I think it’s obvious: cheesecake is a pie who self-identifies as a pie. Or maybe it’s the other way around…. Things get confusing these days.

    But pecan as number 1 is spot on!

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    • November 20, 2017 at 6:20 pm
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      Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island. Discuss.

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  • November 20, 2017 at 6:27 pm
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    I’m going to come out as an REO outlier on this topic. This happens fairly often. Mark and Nathan are outliers more than rarely as well. I love Cheesecake and Snickers of course but my top would include apple and cherry (tried to claim both blurbs and was scimitar-ed). And sweet potato would be up there as well. Then I’d have Key Lime and lastly some chocolates and lemons from Marcus’s list depending on how much room I’d have left. I would not have pecan, pumpkin, chess or fudge. None of the top 4! The first two I just don’t like and the others I’ve never had. Yes, I know, shame me till I flee from the internet!

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    • November 20, 2017 at 7:57 pm
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      Gowdy, the fact that you are from South Carolina yet don’t like pecan pie or pumpkin pie is baffling.

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      • November 20, 2017 at 8:03 pm
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        It is. I don’t deny it. I also don’t like cornbread or collard greens and my angel like mother used to make me mac and cheese for those nights. I think the rest of the family would just as soon have me learn to eat them or starve.

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        • November 20, 2017 at 8:25 pm
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          Yep, my mom would’ve made me starve. Thankfully, I loved beans and cornbread with a side of turnip greens.
          When I got married, it was quite the cuisine culture shock for me as my wife’s family is from northern Indiana, so everything’s corn-based. I was used to eating an East Tennessee mountain style of cooking from my mom where most everything was fried in bacon grease. I love my wife’s cooking; but I have to admit, it took me a while to get used to it.

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    • November 21, 2017 at 12:01 pm
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      Me? An outlier? … surely you jest …

      No, you’re right. I think this list is complete rubbish.

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  • November 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm
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    My very first thoughts as I read this: “These idiots put apple pie at 10. If they leave cheesecake off I’m gonna be ticked!”

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    • November 21, 2017 at 11:38 am
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      I appreciate your candor! Glad cheesecake saved the day. I wish Apple were higher than 10.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 10:59 am
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    My wife had a thought about the cheesecake controversy, namely that cheesecake is a dessert — neither cake, nor pie.

    To put it in more contemporary language: “Why are you insisting on such binary choices! Does cheesecake not have the right to just be itself without being forced into such cis-normative culinary structures?” :-)

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    • November 21, 2017 at 11:39 am
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      The amount of people using “binary” on Twitter was outrageous (considering that medium makes most things overly simplistic) yet I cannot disagree that most things should get beyond binary. Dessert? The jury is still out for me! LOL.

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      • November 21, 2017 at 9:04 pm
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        I think it goes without saying for most of your readership, but just in case, let me specify that my “binary outrage” and so on is entirely tongue-in-cheek!

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        • November 22, 2017 at 8:06 am
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          There are two ways to take that statement.

          Reply

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