One of the most quintessential southern desserts is Chess Pie. It’s made with a simple combined filling of eggs, sugar, butter, cornmeal for texture and vinegar for twang! It’s a little sweet and a little sour, but puckery smooth! While this pie is phenomenal on its own, it has evolved to include many variations, such as chocolate, lemon, coconut, and peanut butter.
Chess pie is a part of Southern food history and has become known as a popular holiday dessert. To find an authentic Chess Pie that pays homage to this great Southern treat, head to Papa C Pies Bakery in Brentwood, where they serve made from scratch Chess Pie, cooking from generational family recipes.
While many of you, especially if you’re from the South, have heard of Chess Pie, its origin story is a little unclear. Through oral histories and later retellings, its been said that Chess Pie became a popular dessert because sugar was affordable and widely available due to the sugarcane that was grown and processed on plantations. Further, it was discovered that these sweet pies didn’t spoil at room temperature, making them an economical and efficient.
Why is it called chess pie?
The name “chess pie” is rooted in mystery. One of the first instances in which the pie was referred to as “chess pie” occurred in 1877 in Estelle Woods Wilcox’s cookbook called Buckeye Cookery.
There are several theories on the origin of the name. Some say the pie was simply named after where it may have started in Chester, England. One explanation suggests that the word was derived from “chest”, pronounced with a drawl and used to describe these pies baked with so much sugar they could be stored in a pie chest rather than refrigerated.
The most popular theory in Nashville is rooted in a story in which a weary traveler back in the 1800’s came to rest at the Cherry Street boarding house late at night. Having missed dinner service he pleaded for any food that was available and was presented with a slice of pie. He loved the pie so much and wanted to know what it was called. The woman, in a deep southern accent, replied: “Don’t know suh, its ‘jus’ pie.” Instead of hearing “just”, he assumed it was called “chess.”
This Southern desert, that is hundreds of years old, is a great way to celebrate the holidays. Order your homemade Chess Pie from Papa C Pies today and share this iconic pie with friends and family today!
Papa C Pies is located at:
99 Seaboard Lane, Suite 100, Brentwood (corner of Seaboard Lane and Bakers Bridge Avenue behind Costco)
Monday – Friday 10am to 6:30pm
Sat: 10am to 5pm
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