The origins of Pie à la Mode (the dessert)

It’s been a humdinger of a month here at The Mode, but I didn’t want to leave the blog dark for too long. You know what happens to a blog on mothballs, don’tcha?

Let’s just say it ain’t pretty.

Today’s entry: the history of pie à la mode.

According to the historians of the Cambridge Hotel in Washington County New York, Professor Charles Watson Townsend, dined regularly at the Cambridge Hotel during the mid 1890′s. He often ordered ice cream with his apple pie. Mrs. Berry Hall, a diner seated next to him, asked what it was called. He said it didn’t have a name, and she promptly dubbed it Pie a la mode. Townsend liked the name so much he asked for it each day by that name. When Townsend visited the famous Delmonico Restaurant in New York City, he asked for pie a la mode. When the waiter proclaimed he never heard of it, Townsend chastised him and the manager, and was quoted as saying; “Do you mean to tell me that so famous an eating place as Delmonico’s has never heard of Pie a la Mode, when the Hotel Cambridge, up in the village of Cambridge, NY serves it every day? Call the manager at once, I demand as good serve here as I get in Cambridge.” The following day it became a regular at Delmonico and a resulting story in the New York Sun (a reporter was listening to the whole conversation) made it a country favorite with the publicity that ensued.

I got an assist on this from Linda Stradley’s History of Apple Pie, whose account is so reputable and reliable that even the mugs over at Wikipedia believed it, too. And if it’s in Wikipedia, it’s gotta be true.

As for the history of Pie a la Mode Productions, you can read a little bit more about that here.

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