Chess Pie (1866); OT: Restaurant Week in NYC

J. Eulenberg eulenbrg at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Mon Jun 21 02:22:56 UTC 2004

Wasn't chess pie called Jefferson Davis pie in the South?

OK, here is what I've found in the cookbook I'm using for a reference --
Joy of Cooking (30th printing, May 1983): Jefferson Davis Pie is a great
deal like the Pecan Pie, with these exceptions: it's creamy (1 cup cream
will do that!), but Rombauer still considers it a "transparent" pie; it
has dates, raisins, and fewer pecans (plus, they are put in as "broken bits").
A note says that without the* nuts* and spices, this becomes Kentucky Pie
(I think I will put it in my novel).  Following that recipe is one for Chess
Tarts (there is no Chess *Pie* in this cookbook).  This calls for baked
tart crusts and the Jefferson Davis Pie recipe, omitting the *dates* and
spices. So, three variations.  Here, Rombauer notes that the origins of
the various transparent pies are: Shoo-fly pie(slightly cakier),
Pennsylvania Dutch; Chess Pie (English, where they call them Banbury
tarts); and the Jefferson Davis and various pecan pies, and their

Now, curiously, the most recent Joy of Cooking has omitted many things,
among them Jefferson Davis Pie.  She does carry a recipe for Chess Pie,
"now chiefly a southern specialty."  "Chess pies . . . are essentially
pecan pies without the nuts."  Clearly one of the things this version of
the cookbook has lost is some of its tantilizing history!  Although with a
great deal more warnings -- all transparent pies curdle, with the
exception of Shoo-Fly Pie, which .....

I know this isn't "first siting," but it shows what happens to cookbooks
over time too.

Most recent Joy is the hefty (1136 pages, compared with the 916 of the
other one I cited) tome which came out in 1997, just in time for the
Christmas gift rush.

Julia Niebuhr Eulenberg <eulenbrg at>

On Fri, 18 Jun 2004 Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Bapopik at AOL.COM
> Subject:      Chess Pie (1866); OT: Restaurant Week in NYC
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  =20
>    It's restaurant week in New York City--for the next _two_ weeks.  The=20
> "prix fixe" is at $20.12, to help NYC get the 2012 Olympics and to swindle a=
> nother=20
> eight cents from the expected $20.04.
>    If you're coming to NYC, e-mail me and we'll make a reservation.  I must=20
> caution that I am on the rebound from Jennifer Lopez.
>  =20
> Summer Restaurant Week 2004 Summer Restaurant Week June 21-25 & June 28-July=
> =20
> 2. ... and three-course dinners for $30.12 to show support for New York=E2=
> =80=99s Bid=20
> to host the 2012 Olympic Games ...=20
> - 31k - Cached - Similar=20
> pages
>   =20
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> --
> --------------------------------------------- =20
>        =20
>    "Chess Pie" should certainly be in the forthcoming OXFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA ON=
> =20
> FOOD AND DRINK IN AMERICA.  I don't know what it has on "chess pie"...I was=20
> recently informed that "chicken a la king" (probably in the top 100 American=
> =20
> dishes) isn't mentioned at all, not even under "chicken"!
>    Again, John Mariani's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN FOOD AND DRINK has 1928 fo=
> r=20
> "chess pie," and DARE has 1932 for "chess pie."  I had found several=20
> citations in the early 1880s.  (See ADS-L archives.)
>    Old cookbooks take "chess pie" to the 1870s.  Newspaperarchive has it fro=
> m=20
> 1866.  I'll try to do better with the full-text CHICAGO TRIBUNE from the=20
> 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s.  I doubt that I'll find "chess pie" in the digitize=
> d=20
> EARLY AMERICAN NEWSAPAPERS (which are mostly pre-1825).
>      =20
>  =20
> Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving. A Treatise Containing Practical=20
> Instructions in Cooking; in the Combination and Serving of Dishes; and in th=
> e=20
> Fashionable Modes of Entertaining at Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. New York:=
>  Harper &=20
> Brothers, 1876.
>     =20
> Buckeye Cookery, and Practical Housekeeping: Compiled from Original Recipes.=
> =20
> Minneapolis, Minn.: Buckeye Pub. Co., 1877.
>      =20
> =20
>  Coshocton Age  Friday, October 12, 1866 Coshocton, Ohio   =20
> ...fruit or vegetables to bo preserved. CHESS PIE. For" two pics common=20
> size..   =20
> Pg. 4, col. 1: =20
>    CHESS PIE.--For two pies common size, take 4 eggs, 3 cups sugar, 1 cup=20
> cream, 1/2 cup butter, 1 tablespoonful flour, and flavor with nutmeg.  Cover=
>  the=20
> baking plates with crust, pour in the mixture, and grate nutmeg over it. =20
> There is no upper crust.  When a pretty brown, try with a spoon as for custa=
> rd. =20
> This is the best pie we ever ate.

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