Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Rappie Pie!

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On the 12th Date of Christmas Tyler Hynes and Mallory Jansen
Credit: ©2020 Crown Media United States LLC/Steven Ackerman

When COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March, the entire county shut down. We transitioned to working from home, attempted to home school our children, and did the best we could to adapt to a life indefinitely indoors. Some of us found new hobbies, baked a lot of bread, or binged a lot of television shows. But the over-arching lesson we are all learning during this difficult period is how to be still. And perhaps, also how to find joy exactly where we are. While Hallmark’s The 12th Date of Christmas was already written before anyone had ever heard of coronavirus, watching it now you can’t help but notice that it inadvertently champions this very idea.

When we meet colleagues Jennifer, played by Mallory Jansen and Aiden, played by Tyler Hynes, the two are paired to create a scavenger hunt all over the city to promote a new local hotel. They decide on making it couple-focused and create the 12 Dates of Christmas. They focus on fun, affordable, approachable ideas for activities in all the different neighborhoods of Chicago and document through photos on social media. Isn't this a cool lesson for us all as we may not be traveling this year—that we could go exploring our own cities or towns and discover brand new people, places, things we may have been missing all this time. And as Hynes pointed out in a recent phone call with Southern Living, “It’s a good little playbook for anybody trying to take somebody on dates.”

While the movie was written before the pandemic broke, it was filmed in this strange new world of social distancing and quarantine bubbles, and Hynes considered it a risk worth taking.

“It was, I think one of the first movies out of the gate as far as productions being filmed again. And yeah, it was different, but I think Hallmark did an incredible job doing everything one could possible do in that circumstance. It was not an easy task and I think everybody really rose to the occasion,” he said. Hynes also recognized the place Hallmark and especially the Countdown to Christmas programming has in today’s unsettled world, that he and his colleagues can provide an escape. “I hope it gives everybody a little bit of light, rounding out the end of the year here.”

Throughout the course of the movie, Hynes’ and Jansen’s characters touch on many classic holiday traditions from Christmas carols to holiday baking, but for the Canadian actor, his classic holiday must-have dish is one we may not be so familiar with down here. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the Acadian dish hailing from Nova Scotia, Rappie Pie. “Basically, it’s chicken and mashed potatoes but the mashed potatoes have been treated in this certain way that it kinda becomes this clear goop. It sounds like a nightmare, but you put butter and salt on it and it’s one of the tastiest, heart-warming, hardy kind of dishes and we’ve always had that in my family, so we fight over that every year,” Hynes explained to us. His mother was also kind enough to share some photos with us, but Hynes issued a caution: “Warn, the images of this thing are not attractive. It looks like something they’d serve in prison but it’s the tastiest thing ever.” He also noted that due to its indulgent, carb forward profile he feels, “It’s something that could definitely exist in the South.” Check out the step by step process of making the Rappie Pie, complete with Hynes' uncle Jules putting in that extra effort.

Rappie Pie-chicken layer
Credit: Hynes Family
Tyler's uncle Jules stirring
Credit: Hynes Family
rappie pie first in the oven
Credit: Hynes Family
Rappie Pie Cooked and golden

Along with time honored family traditions, Hynes recently started one of his own, sparked by an outing with cast mates and crew from a previous Hallmark film, Winter in Vail. “A few of us all went to this German restaurant…and they had these little boots. I guess it’s a tradition in Germany, they have these little tiny glass boots. And you fill ‘em with some alcohol and you do a little boot shot. So, I took it upon myself to buy all of us this boot and take some extra myself and I’ve passed them out to a few family and friends. I’m making a tradition every year. Everyone is going to send me a photo of them doing the shot out of the boot and then hanging it on their tree as an ornament. This is the new tradition that I’ve started.”

Tyler-German-boot-tradition
Credit: Tyler Hynes

For fans of the veteran Hallmark leading man, beyond On the 12th Date of Christmas, Hynes will be present throughout the holiday season. He will also appear on the Deck the Hallmark podcast, Hallmark Channel’s Bubbly Sesh podcast, and he’s taking over the DJ chair on Hallmark Channel Radio on Sirius XM for a bit. Away from the Hallmark universe, Hynes is also in a new feature film, Recon. The WWII era war film based on the book Peace by Richard Bausch is set for a theatrical release on November 10, just ahead of Veteran’s Day.

Be sure to tune in for On the 12th Date of Christmas, premiering on Hallmark Channel, Sunday November 1 at 8PM EST. It will absolutely be a mood-boosting, tinsel-filled, holiday gift for the whole family.