Cake or Pie?
Pie is better than cake. There. I said it. Actually, I’ve said it many, many times. Just never here. I consider myself one of the charter members of the “Pie is Better than Cake Club”. So why does cake seem to dominate as the go-to dessert?
A few reasons…
1.) Variance: Good pie is harder to make. The best ones utilize fresh, seasonal fruits. And crust making is an art form. On the other side, cake is just a bunch of flour and sugar and butter thrown together. It is kind of hard to mess that up. Even bad cake is still usually edible. But bad pie? Or, really, crap that isn’t pie but gets call pie (e.g., McDonalds apple “pies”) and poisons the well? Godawful. But pie also has a far greater ceiling. Don’t get me wrong… I’ve had good cake. But there is only so much you can do with cake. Great pie is transcendent. So the range for pie is far greater in large part because we allow a bunch of non-pie crap fill the bottom rungs. But that crap range is where many Americans live for reasons discussed below.
2.) (Related to #1) Geographical bias: For a number of reasons, the American South is better situated when it comes to pie making. This isn’t to say that you can’t get good pie up north (put down the rolling pin, Zic!), just that the South has several advantages. Unfortunately, the South generally doesn’t drive national culture.
3.) Kids: Cake is a more kid friendly treat. The texture is more palatable to them and the sweetness and general simplicity of flavors (again, basically flour, sugar, and butter) appeals to them. So we eat cake as kids and it becomes the norm for us.
4.) Birthdays and other celebrations: You can write “Happy Birthday” on a cake. Or “Congratulations”. Or “I’m Divorcing You” (if you’re the whimsical sort). You can put candles in a cake. You can put race cards or Barney or Anna and Elsa on a cake. You can’t do that on a pie. You can maybe do some crude designs with canned whip cream on a pumpkin pie BUT WHY ARE YOU RUINING GOOD PUMPKIN PIE WITH CANNED WHIP CREAM?!?!
See… this is where the market fails us. The predominance of cake would suggest that it is the superior treat. But it is not. It simply enjoys a wealth of privilege — as outlined above — that gives it unfair and unearned advantages over pie. There are legions of people in this nation who have *never* had good pie. I’ve met them. It’s sad. Band together with me. Help me unseat Big Cake. Let’s make tarts the trendy dessert du jour and eliminate the scourge that is the cupcake chain. Help your fellow Americans enjoy the amazing and uniquely American delicacy that is pie.