What to Know
- There is a bitter battle going on over the origins of Key lime pie
- Pastry chef Stella Parks wrote in her book "BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts" that the recipe was invented in 1931 in an NYC test kitchen
- Key Westers insist Key lime pie was a Keys staple before that, citing local newspaper articles from 1926
Florida Keys culinary experts are furious about a cookbook author's claim that Key lime pie wasn't invented in the island chain, but in a test kitchen in New York City more than eight decades ago as a marketing ploy.
Pastry chef Stella Parks wrote in her book "BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts" that the Borden milk company, now based in Texas, invented the recipe in a test kitchen on Madison Avenue in 1931 to market sweetened condensed milk, a prime ingredient in Key lime pie.
Key Westers aruged that Key lime pie was a Keys staple before that, citing local newspaper articles from 1926.
David Sloan, author of "The Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook," said his research proves Key lime pie existed before 1931.
"Someone is trying to take away the Florida Keys' culture, and I am not going to stand for it," he said.
Sloan said the Keys' signature dessert was perfected in late 1800s Key West by a woman named Aunt Sally, who adapted sponge fishermen's custom of blending stale Cuban bread, sweetened condensed milk and Key lime juice.
"The people of the Keys believe the first Key lime pie was invented by sponge fishermen who went out in their rafts for several days and took supplies," Sloan said. "We think that they took stale Cuban bread and moistened it up with sweetened condensed milk and then took wild bird eggs, squeezed some lime over it, let it sit in the sun and there you had the first Key lime pie."
Sloan is a primary organizer for the annual summer Key Lime Festival that features a July 4 Key lime pie eating contest. He and others have also crafted eight-foot-in-diameter Key lime pies at major events.
In 2006, Florida's legislature voted Key lime pie as the state's official dessert. The celebration was staged in Key West.
A message seeking comment from Parks wasn't immediately returned.