High on Pie

Dreams do come true. Just ask my dad. Some of you might remember the "pie envy" he experienced last year when his daughter (me) served as a judge at the APC Crisco National Pie Championships. A longtime lover of flaky crusts and fruity fillings, my father bemoaned the fact that he, too, was not there to taste-test the various berry- and crème-filled pies baked fresh by amateurs (and commercial bakeries, professionals and juniors) in a quest to be crowned winner.
This year, he got his wish.
It was with pies in his eyes that Bob (as his grandson calls him) accompanied me in April to Orlando, where he experienced firsthand the sugar high that you get from judging this contest. Dubbed the "Custard King" by American Pie Council chairman Rich Hoskins, my dad tried 10 custard creations (while I sampled 26 entries of apple, my preferred genre) before judging Best of Show, a three-hour undertaking that gave him his fill of all things cranberry, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, you name it.
Of course, Dad and I aren't the only pie lovers out there... nor were we the only ones in attendance at the championships. Interest in the competition has grown so much that this year's event saw 223 more submissions than in 2006, resulting in 27 more consumer, culinary and industry judges, as well.
In addition, 2007 marks the one-year anniversary of an innovative partnership between Starwood Hotels and the APC. The Four Pies program ensures that Four Points by Sheraton guests worldwide can get a piece of their favorite flavor upon checking in. (Visit www.StarwoodHotels.com for details.)
None of this could have been possible without the Hoskins family, which has become synonymous with pie. Rich and his wife, APC executive director Linda Hoskins, along with their children Rick and Lisa, have almost single-handedly driven the championships for more than 10 years. Kudos to these pie promoters for all their hard work!
As for me, sharing a few slices (make that many) with my dad — and introducing him to some of the industry friends I've made this past year — was a memorable experience. I want to thank the APC for letting a retired chemical engineer from Ohio join his daughter in an all-American pastime: eating pie.
My father's dream was finally realized. That said, he now agrees: There is such a thing as too much pie.
What can I say, Dad? Be careful what you wish for.
Deborah Cassell, managing editor

Editor's Note: For more information about the National Pie Championships — and a list of this year's winners — visit the American Pie Council at www.piecouncil.org .

Charting Pie
3.14 The mathematical value of Π

44 The number of commercial and amateur apple pies SF&WB
managing editor Deborah Cassell sampled while serving as a judge at the National Pie Championships

145 The number of judges who participated in the competition

858 The total number of pies entered in the commercial, amateur, professional and junior categories of the National Pie Championships
30 The total number of awards won by Bakers Square and J. Horner's

34747 The zip code of Celebration, Fla., host of the Great American Pie Festival and home of Karen Panosian, winner of the amateur apple pie division
16 The age of Michigan Apple Queen Pauline Wendzel, who served as an apple pie judge and award presenter at the National Pie Championships

8 The dollar amount of admission for one adult into the Great American Pie Festival's Never-Ending Pie Buffet