A boarding house usually has many boarders; boarding house pie is cut in many small slices so that each boarder has a piece. Anything that is cut many times into small pieces is said to be “cut like a boarding house pie.”
“Fight managers, claiming pieces of me, have got me cut up like a boarding house pie,” boxer Max Baer said in 1934. “Now that Congress has passed the $4,880,000,000 bill and the President has split it up in segments, like a boarding-house pie,” the Los Angeles (CA) Times said in 1935.
University of Texas head football coach Darrell Royal (1924-2012) popularized the saying after Texas lost to Rice University. “They cut us up like boarding house pie and that’s real small chunks,” Royal said in 1961.
The expression “cut up like boarding house pie” is now mostly historical. “Boardinghouse reach” is another boarding house expression.
Wikipedia: Darrell Royal
Darrell K Royal (July 6, 1924 – November 7, 2012) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Mississippi State University (1954–1955), the University of Washington (1956), and the University of Texas at Austin (1957–1976), compiling a career college football record of 184–60–5. In his 20 seasons at Texas, Royal’s teams won three national championships (1963, 1969, and 1970), 11 Southwest Conference titles, and amassed a record of 167–47–5. He won more games than any other coach in Texas Longhorns football history. Royal also coached the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL) for one season in 1953. He never had a losing season as a head coach for his entire career. Royal played football at the University of Oklahoma from 1946 to 1949. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1983. Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, where the Longhorns play their home games, was renamed in his honor in 1996.
25 December 1934, Washington (DC) Post, “Baer, Holding Cashless Bag, Now Facing Test of Prestige Against Levinsky” by Jack Miley, pg. 17, col. 1:
“Fight managers, claiming pieces of me (Max Baer, a boxer—ed.), have got me cut up like a boarding house pie.”
29 April 1935, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “City Hall Gossip,” pg. 4, col. 5:
Now that Congress has passed the $4,880,000,000 bill and the President has split it up in segments, like a boarding-house pie, it behooves the City Hall brigade to see what we can pull out of the pantry.
22 September 1936, Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, AR), “Miley far out on a limb in case Ettore should plaster Louis” by Jack Miley, pg. 12, col. 3:
he has a million managers and they will probably cut him up like a boarding house pie.
22 May 1941, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, “Christoforidis And Lesnevich Fight Tonight: N. B. A. Light-heavyweight Title To Be at Stake in Garden” by Side Feder (AP), pg. 23, col. 3:
Right now, the 175-pound title is cut up like a boarding house pie.
17 May 1944, The Sunday Courier and Press (Evansville, IN), “Sew It Seams” by Daniel W. Scism, pg. 2-B, col. 1:
“He’ll cut me up like a boarding house pie if he can.”
(Spoken by Bo Hamilton, a golfer.—ed.)
25 August 1948, Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, AR), “Bacon, Eggs and War and Peace” by Spider Rowland, pg. 4, col. 7:
He believes Russia will crawl down somewhat off her high horse after the election when the fire-eating speeches stop and this country stops looking like a boarding house pie—divided eight ways, that is.
7 May 1960, Evansville (IN) Courier, “Sew It Seems” by Daniel W. Scism, pg. 13, col. 1:
He was chopped up like a boarding house pie by Bally Ache in Florida and Tompion at Keeneland.
25 May 1961, Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, AR), “Texas Keeps ‘Em Buzzing” by Orville Henry, pg. 2B, col. 1:
ON HIS (Darrell Royal—ed.) three-team system, or more specifically, his policy of alternating three lines for five-minute turns against Arkansas and others: “We started out like that against Nebraska and stayed with it until Rice cut up our third team like boarding house pie.”
Google News Archive
24 October 1961, Victoria (TX) Advocate, “Royal Sings Rice Blues About Game” (AP), pg. 7, col. 5:
“They cut us up like boarding house pie and that’s real small chunks,” said the former University of Oklahoma quarterback.
5 December 1976, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “The final game: Darrell Royal ends 20 years of UT coaching” by Glenn Garvin, pg. A14, col. 1:
A team that beat Texas didn’t just win. “They cut us up like boarding-house pie, and that’s real small chunks,” Royal said.
Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Memorable quotes from Darrell Royal during his coaching career
6:19 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012
Cedric Golden American-Statesman Staff
“They cut us up like boarding house pie. And that’s real small pieces.”