I saw Warrant in concert once. You know, Warrant – the eighties glam metal band. They played my college back in the late eighties. They were the opening band for Eddie Money. I remember heading to the show declaring to all that would listen that I was going to catch a drumstick or some item from the band that would be tossed in to the crowd. I’m not sure why I was declaring that, maybe just to make the night a little more interesting. But I made my intentions known. There was no assigned seating. Most people had taken seats in the bleachers, but we assembled on the floor directly in front of the stage. There was a surprising amount of room up there too. Warrant came on and nobody really knew who they were. They were ok, I guess. I wasn’t really into that kind of music, but they were entertaining enough. Then Eddie Money came out. During his first song, the guitar player exuberantly tossed his guitar pick into the crowd. I watched it go up and land in a big open space on the floor. I casually walked over and picked it up. No one else was even making a motion to go get it. That’s how I got my guitar pick form Eddie Money. My mission had been fulfilled. I don’t remember it being a very good concert. I think that was the height of Eddie’s substance abuse era.
I mention Warrant because they had the hit song “Cherry Pie.” That song came out probably a year or two after I saw them, but it kind of put them on the map. In any case, that song was going through my head today on a loop. It was National Cherry Pie Day and I couldn’t think about that without hearing that stupid song. What an awful song too. It’s put a dark mark on actual cherry pie for me. That’s the power of music, I suppose.
It’s hard to ruin cherry pie because as far as pies goes, it’s right up there. At least in reputation. I actually don’t think I’ve ever had a real cherry pie. It’s just the kind of pie I would like though. Nice flaky crust on the outside. Fruity, sweet filling on the inside. Even the bright red color of the cherry filling is enticing. I can picture it being served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That’s a party right there.
Pies have been around for centuries, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, although the first pies were usually made with meat as a hardy meal that would be easy to eat. Fruit pies came around in the 1500’s and Queen Elizabeth I was supposedly the first recipient of a cherry pie. Maybe she is the muse that inspired Warrant. Maybe Warrant was touring the National Museum in London one day and were collectively inspired by her triumphs as one of England’s most noted monarchs that the song just burst from their inspired souls. I’m sure that’s the story. Queen Elizabeth had that effect on people.
I am still not ready to make my own pie crust. A good pie crust makes or breaks a good pie, and also makes or breaks a good baker. I’m not there yet. I don’t have the patience for dough. The rolling it out, the being gentle with it – I rush too much. When a pie comes up on this quest I always try to take the easy way out like a pre-made crust or buying someone else’s pie. That’s my story today, but I do realize I need to step up at some point and meet the challenge of making my own pie crust. Lola has made a good one before. It’s one of her many secret talents. Maybe I’ll have her show me on the next pie day. 3/14 is right round the corner.
I saw a recipe from Pillsbury for making cherry pie that was as easy as could be. You take the Pillsbury pre-made dough. You put one piece in the bottom of a pie pan, you scoop in two cans of cherry pie filling and then cover it with another piece of the dough. You have to cut some holes in the top and make it look all nice-nice, but that’s about as easy as it gets. The whole pie filling in a can is a great shortcut for making pies. It gives you the perfect consistency for a pie filling with the right amount of sweetness, and you don’t have to peel, core, de-pit, prep or any of that rigamarole. You just open the can and go. Sure, the purists are gasping right now, but it is an easy time saver. In the end however, I decided not to go this route. The real reason was that I wasn’t feeling like making a trip to the store for pie crust and filling only to have one piece and see the rest go to waste. Waste has been a big part of this quest and I’m always trying to reduce. It’s hard to give away three-quarters of a pie. I just wanted something small too I could have one serving and be done. That’s when the answer hit me like Steven Sweet slamming his drumsticks on his Zildjian cymbals: Hostess Cherry Pies.
I will say that the Hostess brand was not my first choice. I thought first about McDonalds. They used to sell a cherry pie, alongside their apple pie. To the best of my knowledge, they no longer carry them, or only bring them back on occasion. I never had one, but I always remember seeing them there and having friends that liked them. I was willing to give it a try today. What could be wrong about a cherry filling wrapped in a flaky dough that is fried (yes fried) to perfection? But none such luck. That’s when I remembered the Hostess Fruit Pies. Again, these were something that I never had as a kid growing up. Pie was not my thing, so I never wanted anything to do with them. In fact, I was never very keen on any Hostess products. They just didn’t taste good to me – they had that commercially made taste to me, even as a kid. But I was always intrigued by them on display in the stores. The fruit pies especially. They had that wax paper wrapper that was unlike any other packaging. It was like a little treasure.
The wax paper packaging is gone now and now they come in a box. That’s it – just in a box – no inside wrapper. The box is branded in the unmistakeable Hostess look and colors, so you know you are getting a Hostess product. When I slid it out of the box, I thought to myself that this is a donut, not a pie. It is completely covered in a sugar glaze. I never knew about this. It’s a good size and in fact the perfect size I was looking for to celebrate this day. The instructions on the box said to microwave for 15 seconds so I did that and while it was warm, it was not unbearable to hold or eat. It tastes like a donut too. It does have a nice flaky crust and the pie filling is sweet like you would want in the center of the pie, but the glaze gives it that donut taste. Again, not a bad thing. It kept its form with each bite I took which is important in a handheld pie. All in all this was a pretty good pie, although that’s using a very loose definition of what a pie should be. But it did say Cherry Pie right on the box, so you can’t deny its qualifications.
Today was Presidents’ Day too so I thought that celebrating Cherry Pie on this day was kind of right. It was George Washington who chopped down a cherry tree, inevitably to make a pie, who would later famously fess up to his overeager tree cutting. That’s the guy we are celebrating today, so what better way to do so then by partaking in a slice of honest cherry pie. Just seems honorable. And maybe I didn’t make my own pie or even have a pie that was served as a slice. That’s ok. It celebrates the diversity of the pie world – the different traditions for eating pie throughout our land. Yours may come on a plate with some ice cream, mine came from Cumberland Farms in a box. This land is made for you and me, so lets all share our cherry pies and celebrate what this land is all about. “Tastes so good make a grown man cry, Sweet cherry pie, oh yeah.”
Next Up: National Sticky Bun Day