In the U.S., “pie” means dessert.
That’s not true elsewhere in the world, where “pies” have a variety of connotations and might just as easily be savory as they are sweet.
Where Americans think of pies in the classic apple, coconut cream, and other dessert versions, many cultures use the word pie — or variations like pasties, a popular British take on a pie — to be more like an empanada.
Think of a pie as not a round dessert cut into slices but as a hand-held, sealed crust filled with anything from sweet pie to meats, potatoes, and other savory fare. It’s an on-the-go food that can be pretty much anything you want it to be.
That’s versatile — and it seems like something that makes sense on a fast-food menu, So far, however, American chains have not embraced this idea, at least on their U.S. menus.
This may change, however, as McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report has introduced a new savory pie, albeit not on its U.S. menu.
McDonald’s Made Handheld Pies a Thing
McDonald’s created its classic hand-held apple pie, served hot, in 1968. It was a new take on an American classic that was added to its menu at a time when new menu additions were a really big deal.
“The recipe for McDonald’s apple pie came from a Knoxville, Tenn., franchisee named Litton Cochran, who had opened that city’s first McDonald’s in 1960,” Eater.com reported.
“The apple pie was the first dessert added to the McDonald’s menu in 1968, the same year that the fast-food company introduced the Big Mac. The original recipe and turnover-style pie was fried to crispiness with a light golden color and served hot in a folded cardboard carton.”
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McDonald’s stopped frying its pies in 1992, replacing them with a baked version. That was considered a healthier choice, but it was an unpopular move when it happened.
“The crunchy outer crust and the hot sweet filling inside is a match made in heaven. The pies were really apple turnovers in the shape of a golden-flaky rectangle,” the pie blog Everything Pies wrote about the fried pies.
Over the years, McDonald’s has put a lot of fillings beyond apples into its pies.
In fact, it has created more than 40 variants of the pie, with fillings including strawberry, pineapple, and pumpkin. Outside the U.S., popular flavors include taro (China), sweet corn (Thailand), and berries and currant (the U.K.), Eater reported.
Now, however, the chain has taken pie someplace entirely new — but you’ll have to go to Japan to try it.
McDonald’s Adds a Savory Pie
McDonald’s often uses its global footprint to try out new ideas that eventually make it to American shores. In this case, the company has added a Bacon Potato Pie to its menu in Japan on a limited-time basis.
“The Bacon Potato Pie is essentially one of Mickey D’s iconic pies, just brimming with savory deets like fluffy potatoes, scrumptious bacon, and onions, all folded into a creamy milk filling.” Foodbeast reported.
And while savory pies may not be an American idea, it’s easy to see how this concept could be brought to the U.S., perhaps with a new name.
Imagine the convenience of a Big Mac “pie” or a Bacon Cheeseburger variant marketed to people on the go, or those eating in their cars.
Those are very American concepts that might help broaden the idea of what exactly a “pie” is.