A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 10, 2010
Sawdust Pie

A recipe for “sawdust pie’ was published in the May 1983 issue of Bon Appetit, from Patti’s 1880’s Settlement of Grand Rivers, KY. The pie contains graham cracker crumbs (the “sawdust"), coconut and pecans in an egg batter.

The name “sawdust pie” had been used much earlier. A newspaper reported in 1838: “A SAWDUST PIE was lately sent a present by a Grahamite, to an editor in Cincinnati.” It is not known what the recipe for this pie was, but it might have contained Graham crackers. In the 1870s, a “sawdust pie” was made for April Fool’s Day, but this recipe is also unknown.

In the 1900s, a “sawdust pie” was presented at Halloween, weddings, and other occasions. The “pie” appears not to be edible, but consists of toys covered in sawdust.


Patti’s 1880’s Settlement (Grand Rivers, KY)
Sawdust Pie
Coconut, graham cracker crumbs and pecans in an egg batter and baked with a flaky pie shell. We top this with sliced bananas, whipped cream and more sliced bananas. This pie got its name because the kids say it looks like baked sawdust. It was mother’s first published recipe (Bon Appetit, May 1983).

eHow
How to Make a Sawdust Pie
By cosmopink, eHow Member
Sawdust pie sure doesn’t sound very tempting, but just wait until you see and taste it. It looks dreamy, and taste heavenly! It’s truly an awesome, simple to make treasure. Made simply from egg whites, sugar, graham cracker crumbs, coconut and pecans. Perfect for people who hate having to follow a specific order for ingredients. This unique pie really is that simple!

18 May 1838, Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 2:
A SAWDUST PIE was lately sent a present by a Grahamite, to an editor in Cincinnati. Luxurious living!

25 May 1843, Boston (MA) Courier, pg. 1:
The one is plotting to revolutionize mankind by the help of turnip tops, johnnycake, string beans and sawdust pie.

Google Books
Camp, Field and Prison Life:
Containing sketches of service in the South, and the experience, incidents and observations connected with almost two years’ imprisonment at Johnson’s Island, Ohio, where 3,000 Confederate officers were confined

By W. A. Wash
St. Louis, MO: Southwestern Book Pub. Co.
1870
Pg. 218:
We did not forget that it was April Fool’s day, and many good jokes and sells were got off by the Confederate fraternity. I made a sawdust pie and presented it to Major Stuart of Arkansas, for trimming my hair.

5 April 1871, Democratic Pharos (Logansport, IN), “April Fools’ Day,” pg. 4, col. 2:
We had a very fine sawdust pie and spread our bread with lard from the butter plate, but we were not “fooled,” for we expected just such treatment.

13 October 1898, Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette, pg. 2, col. 1:
There was a sawdust pie with a delightfully browned top crust in which was a “plum” for every guest.

Google Books
Etiquette for all Occasions
By Florence Kingsland
New York, NY: Doubleday, Page and Company
1901
Pg. 458:
If it be desired to give souvenirs to the guests, a small birch-bark canoe filled with ferns or wild flowers of any kind that grow in the woods may be at each place, or an immense sawdust pie may contain wooden trifles to be distributed among them.

30 October 1904, Duluth (MN) News-Tribune, pg. 5:
HALLOWE’EN GAMES.
From Harper’s Bazaar:
(...)
These and many pther seasonable tricks made the time pass quickly. A great sawdust pie, evidently baked in a dishpan, had many long strings, one for each guest: a horn was blown, and at the sound all pulled the strings and many tangles were the result. Disentangled, a whistle, horn or squeaker, was found attached to each string, and when all were blown together the noise was astonishing.

Google Books
The Complete Hostess
By Clara E Laughlin
New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company
1912
Pg. 163:
A great sawdust pie, in which are hidden gifts, that each guest spoons up for himself, or a wooden washtub filled with the same, are general features at this celebration.

18 September 1983, Paris (TX) News, pg. 33, cols. 4-5:
SAWDUST PIE
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut (6 ouncces)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs
7 egg whites, unbeaten
1 unbaked 10 inch pie shell
unsweetened whipped cream (garnish)
1 large banana thinly sliced (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, coconut, pecans, Graham cracker crumbs and egg whites in large bowl and mix well. Do not beat. Turn into pie shell. Bake until filling is just set, about 35 minutes; do not overbake. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top each serving with generous dollops of whipped cream and several banana slices. 8-10 servings.
MRS. D. A. HERFORT
1299 Paradise
Rt. 7 Box 10

Google News Archive
7 November 1984, Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal, “Piazza Tea Room, Pace House Featured in Book” by Mabel Moss, pg. D1, cols. 2-3:
Two elegant local dining places, Jean Frick’s Piazza Tea Room and The Pace House Restaurant, have put Spartanburg on the culinary map.

These two are mong the 50 featured in the book South Carolina’s Historic Restaurants and their recipes, co-authored by Dawn O’Brien and Karen Mulford.
(...)
With it she has a pot of spiced tea, and for dessert the Sawdust Pie, filled with pecans and coconut and topped with whipped cream, banana slices and a maraschino cherry.
(at the Piazza Tea Room—ed.)

19 September 1987, Kerrville (TX) Mountain Sun, pg. 14, col. 1:
SAWDUST PIE
1 1/2 cups white or brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafers or graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
7 egg whites, unbeaten
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1 sliced banana
whipped cream

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until just blended. Pour into pie shell and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until filling is set. When serving, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and a slice of banana. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The “sawdust,” of course, is the crumbs.)

6 November 1988, Salina (KS) Journal, pg. C21, col. 1:
PARISH PATCH
SAWDUST PIE
Anna Belle Grubbs
Burr Oka, Kansas 66936

1 1/2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup egg whites, unbeaten
1 pie shell, unbaked
Whipped topping

Combine coconut, graham cracker crumbs, pecans and sugar. Mix with egg whites. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with whipped topping.

Google News Archive
4 January 1990, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “‘Sawdust’ pie has pecans, crackers,” pt. 1, pg. 12, col. 5:
Charlotte P. Boyles, Milwaukee, sent a recipe for sawdust pie for C.H., Milwaukee.
Charlotte’s Parish Patch Sawdust Pie
1/2 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup egg whites, unbeaten
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine coconut, graham cracker crumbs, pecans and sugar. Mix in egg whites by hand. Pour mixture into pie shell.
Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Food and Recipe Blog
Sawdust Pie
by Joi on May 12, 2007
An amazingly popular restaurant here in Kentucky is Patti’s 1880′s Settlement in Grand Rivers. One of the things that helped make them famous is their pies. Below is a recipe for one called a Sawdust Pie. You’ll love it much…much…muchly!

7 egg whites, unbeaten
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1-1/2 cups pecans
1-1/2 cups coconut
9 inch unbaked pie shell

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Friday, December 10, 2010 • Permalink