My Independence Day column had to do with the Americanism of apple pie. While most of us have been home a lot more in the past few months, the ladies have probably done a lot of baking. I have always loved homemade cakes and pies.
But this simile obviously isn’t talking about baking a pie. It was coined in 19th century America, when it referred to the ease of eating a tasty pastry. The task was related to pleasant times when family was gathered for festive occasions. There are a number of examples, not all in the self-same phraseology. In fact, the first known printed reference is to a variant of this, “nice as pie,” in 1855, in an article titled Which, Right or Left?
“For nearly a week afterwards, the domestics observed significantly to each other, that Miss Isabella was as nice as pie.”
Mark Twain used pie in this sense several times in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” published in 1884. Here is one of those examples:
“You’re always as polite as pie to them.”
The earliest known printing of “as easy as pie,” per se, appeared in the Rhode Island newspaper The Newport Mercury in June 1887, in a comical story about two New Yorkers who were down on their luck.
“You see veuever I goes I take mit me a silverspoon or knife or some things an’ I gets two or three dollars for them. It’s as easy as pie. Vy don’t you try it?”
If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.