How the Pecan Pie Became the South's Signature Dessert

Do you know the origins of this Southern classic?

Green Tomato Mincemeat Pie
Photo: Alison Miksch

The South's signature pecan pie is actually a relative latecomer to the Southern table. Recipes for milk-custard-based pecan pies can be found as early as 1824 in Mary Randolph's The Virginia Housewife, but it wasn't until the 1930s when promotional recipes for a syrup-based pecan pie appeared on the labels of Karo syrup bottles that its popularity soared. Some historians credit the original recipe to the wife of a Karo executive, but an even earlier version of the syrup-based pie appeared in the Texas Brownwood Bulletin in 1921. Thirty years later, Marion Brown's landmark Southern Cookbook proclaimed it "the South's most popular pie". Clever variations soon followed, including Tar Heel Pie and Kentucky Derby Pie. Our latest twist? A stellar riff on the flavors of German chocolate cake, for which the Lone Star State also claims bragging rights, German Chocolate-Pecan Pie. This pie has a caramelized ribbon of coconut and pecans topping a silky, profoundly chocolate filling. Need we say more?

For more pecan pie recipes, check out Classic Pecan Pie Recipes.

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