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The History of Blueberry Pie

Blueberry pie is an American staple, much like its apple-filled cousin. But did you know that blueberry pie took a lot longer to catch on than other fruit-filled pastries? The first mention of blueberry pie in a publication didn’t show up until 1829, when the New England Farmer mentioned it in passing. The first blueberry pie recipe is thought to have been written by a Mrs. Bliss; it appeared in her 1850 cookbook, Practical Cook Book. Why did blueberry pie take so long to catch on? Part of the reason has to do with the blueberries themselves. Wild blueberries, which are smaller and sweeter than high-bush blueberries, are unique to the eastern part of Maine. Until the Civil War, the only people who ate them lived in the region. However, once the war began, sardine canneries were unable to market to the South, so they began canning wild blueberries for Union troops instead. The soldiers developed a taste for wild blueberries and continued to eat the canned fruit after the war, helping the wild blueberry to spread beyond New England. However, even though other regions of the United States now enjoy wild blueberries on a regular basis – especially in the form of delicious pie filling! – many people still say that the best wild blueberry pie is made in Maine. Helen’s Restaurant, which opened in 1950, makes a blueberry pie that is consistently voted the best in the state.

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