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The Humble Beginnings of the Boston Cream Pie

 When and where did Boston Cream Pie originate? I have a bet riding on this — the other person says it's from the Excelsior hotel in Boston. I'm from Boston, and I don't think there is or ever was an Excelsior Hotel!

 So your friend says, "the Excelsior Hotel in Boston," and you say "everywhere else in the world except the Excelsior Hotel in Boston, which I don't think ever existed" — right? Remind us never to place a bet with you.

Whether or not there was an Excelsior Hotel in Boston, the pie originated in the same spot as its sibling, the Parker House Roll. Well, that's sort of true — the Boston Cream Pie as we know it today originated at the Parker House Hotel in Boston.

The Boston Cream Pie was originally a pie consisting of white cake with a custard filling or topping (an therefore not a pie so much as a cake). That cake/pie had its origins in the early days of colonial history, and was sometimes called a Pudding-Cake Pie, although we have seen references to a similar English custard cake, so its true origins probably hark back to Britain. If, in the early days, it included a raspberry jelly filling, it was called Mrs. Washington's Pie.

In 1855, the French chef of the Parker House Hotel, Monsieur Sanzian, fiddled about with the pie, adding a layer of chocolate icing and dressing the sides with almond slivers. At that point, it was called the Parker House Chocolate Pie. In the intervening 150+ years, the Parker House Chocolate Pie swallowed up the name Boston Cream Pie; the Parker House became the Omni Parker House; Mrs. Washington's Pie, if it exists now at all, is drenched with totally bogus cherry pie filling; and the Pudding-Cake Pie has apparently been lost to the dustbin of history.

Anyone who mentions Boston Cream Pie these days conjures up images including chocolate icing, if not the almonds.

Certainly as a former resident of Boston you already know, but to share this tidbit with the rest of the world, the Boston Cream Pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts.

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