[Sca-cooks] History -- pecan pie recipe

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Thu Nov 19 06:57:38 PST 2009

Andrew Smith says anyway

"Pecan pie is a very popular, and, unlike apple pie, a truly all- 
American dessert."

In Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History, John and Ann  
Egerton note pecan pie starts becoming common only after Karo syrup  
comes along and that is 1902-1903. The 1901 Picayune Creole Cook Book  
includes a molasses pie but they don't add pecans to it.

Karo syrup was very popular. Here's a recipe from 1916.

Karo Syrup Pie

Cup sugar, one tablespoon melted butter, two tablespoons flour, cup  
milk, cup Karo cyrup, two eggs, beaten yolks. Flavor with vanilla or  

orig, 1916 repub. in 2007 as Echos of Southern Kitchens (Cooking in  
There's a 1910 Karo Cook Book but I've read reports that it doesn't  
have a pecan pie in it. The second edition is listed as being at the  
University of Iowa, 46 pages and it's not up on Google Book.
I think they published this one first Corn Products Cook Book
  By Emma Churchman Hewitt and then retitled it as the Karo Cook Book  
for the second printing
with more of an emphasis on Karo syrup.

The Corn Products Cook Book is available in a 2009 facsimile and can  
be seen on Google Books.

Karo published a recipe for pecan pie in the 1930's that became very  
popular. It may be in this 1937 volume titled
49 delightful ways to enjoy Karo, America's favorite table syrup  By  
Corn Products Sales Co.

The Karo Syrup website says: 1930's

The wife of corporate sales executive discovers a new use for corn  
syrup. A mixture of corn syrup, sugar, eggs, vanilla and pecans baked  
in a pie shell produces the now classic Pecan Pie-destined to become a  
world class favorite. Down South, today, that same recipe continues to  
be called Karo Pie.
The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, volume 7 is titled Foodways  
and is edited by John Edge says the recipes begin to appear in great  
abundance in southern cookbooks only in the 1940's.

OED says pecan pie n.

1886 Harper's Bazaar 6 Feb. 95/4 *Pecan pie... The pecans must be very  
carefully hulled, and the meat thoroughly freed from any bark or husk  
[etc.]. 1901 T. P. MARSHALL Lone Star Cook Bk. 49 Texas Pecan Pie. 1  
cup sugar, 1 cup sweet milk, 1-2 cup chopped pecans, 3 eggs, 1 tb.  
flour. Bake and spread meringue on top. 1936  Boston Cooking-School  
Cook Bk. (new ed.) Fanny Farmer.  633 Pecan Pie... 3 eggs... 1 cup  
light corn syrup... 1 cup finely chopped pecans.

So that 1886 mention and that 1901 reference are earlier than Karo  
Syrup. Now the Lone Star Cook Book from 1901 is also out in a  
facsimile. It's up for viewing on Google Books, so here's the recipe:

Texas Pecan Pie
I cup sugar, 1 cup sweet milk, 1-2 cup chopped pecans, 3 eggs, 1 tb.  
flour. Bake and serve with meringue on top. page 49

Look to me like the syrup goes in for the sweet milk.

John Thorne has a chapter on pecan pies in his book Outlaw Cook but my  
copy seems buried at the moment.

Hope this helps


Google Books has this 1913 edition of Modern women of America cookbook
  By Anna Claire Vangalder and Modern Woodmen of America which has  
dozens and dozens of very traditional American pie recipes. It's up on  
full view.

On Nov 19, 2009, at 2:40 AM, Celia des Archier wrote:

> If you found a recipe for molasses pie in the 19th century, you  
> might find
> treacle tart, which is the British equivalent, at an earlier date...  
> has
> anyone looked for that?
>> -----Original Message-----
>>> Pecan pie seems to be another fusion dish or Old and New World
>>> ingredients. Is there anything close from period? Or is that too  
>>> much
>>> sugar even for the Elizabethans?
>>> Stefan
>> Pecan pie is a creation of the U.S. of A.  The native range of  
>> pecan trees
>> is primarily within the boundries of the U.S.  I've been looking,  
>> but I
>> haven't found a recipe earlier than the 20th Century.  The closest  
>> thing
>> I've found is a recipe for molasses pie (no nuts involved) from a  
>> cookbook
>> published in 1879.
>> Bear

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