For the past three and a half years, we have had a Facebook Live show called Cooking with Collections every month where we make a recipe from our collection and have staff taste test it. It has brought about some surprising recipes and tastes. During our Meet Me at the Fair exhibit a few years ago, we made several different recipes that were in cookbooks from World’s Fairs and shared them with you on the blog. During this time of quarantine, we wanted to bring to you some other recipes on our blog and decided to branch out a little bit. For this quarantine series, we will not be focusing on recipes in our collection or an exhibit at the Museum, but we will be focusing on recipes from times of hardship in the United States and throughout the world. Today we have another recipe from the Great Depression although its roots go back much further – Mock Apple Pie!
Mock Apple Pie has been around for some time. There are recipes for it dating back to at least the 19th Century, but Ritz Crackers popularized the recipe. That’s right, the mock apples in this recipe are Ritz Crackers! Ritz Crackers actually made their debut during the Great Depression on November 21, 1934. They were very well received and ended up being popular during this time period because of their unique buttery flavor and their low selling cost. They were just 19 cents for a one-pound box, making them affordable for much of the population. We don’t often think of products debuting then succeeding against all odds during the Great Depression, but Ritz Crackers did just that! Within three years, they had become the bestselling cracker in the world due to their unique flavor and low cost.
Their popularity certainly helped make them a prime candidate for Mock Apple Pie. By World War II the company even began printing the recipe for their version of the pie on the back of their boxes. Before Ritz Crackers hit the scene, Mock Apple Pie recipes used soda crackers or saltines and there were even some that used vegetables! Can I interest anyone in some apple-flavored zucchini pie?
I had seen this recipe in several lists of Depression-era recipes in the past and had always been curious about what it would be like, so this was the perfect time to try it! Now, neither my husband or I really like pie, except for my Grammy’s Apple Pie. I started making that pie with my Grammy probably before I could even talk so I think I am fairly accustomed to making apple pie, but it also means I have a high standard. I transferred that standard to my husband as well – he had never met a pie he liked until he had the one I make. So, with that in mind, I was still curious and thought it was worth the risk to bring you all this interesting recipe.
There is no other way to say this: y’all, making this pie really grossed me out! Even though we are all self-quarantining, my coworkers got several updates about how grossed out I was while making this pie. But the fact that versions of this recipe have been around for over one-hundred years means people must enjoy it, right? I don’t know if it grossed me out to make as much as our Heinz Ketchup Apple Pie, but it is a close call. Although the Heinz Ketchup Apple Pie tasted more like a traditional apple pie – we still have coworkers who don’t believe us there was actually ketchup in that pie!
There are quite a few Mock Apple Pie recipes floating out there on the internet, but I chose to use this recipe from Kraft Canada. It was a pretty simple recipe to follow and was much easier than making regular apple pie as you don’t have to peel and slice apples. I don’t know quite what I expected with this recipe. I know I didn’t think I would have to boil crackers on the stove, but that’s what I had to do. And you know what? Surprisingly, it wasn’t half bad. Boiling the crackers is what really grossed me out, everything else about this recipe was fairly normal. And even after all of that, the pie was not gross. It was actually tasty. It was definitely simple to make and my husband really enjoyed it. He even gave it 4 out of 5 stars, which I would say isn’t bad at all for a person who usually doesn’t like pie. We tried it both warm and after it sat at room temperature. The consistency was much more like apple pie when it was no longer warm and was room temperature. So, if you want to try something new, or simply have the supplies on the hand, why not go ahead and give this recipe a try! If you do try it, please let us know how it turns out!