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Cherry Pies

"An ISU tradition that is older than VEISHEA"

Here's an Iowa State tradition that is older than VEISHEA itself. The student-run bake sale by the ISU Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management has been selling the delicious cherry pies for more than 80 years ago, that is two years before VEISHEA came into existence. The event originated in the 1920s during February, and the cherry filling was first selected to commemorate George Washington's birthday. The first cherry pies were sold with ham sandwiches, coffee, and the pie was offered a la mode. There were about 2,000 visitors who enjoyed this meal. VEISHEA was created in 1922 to incorporate all of the colleges at the time to show how Iowa State was connected. Today the sale of the cherry pies has become one of VEISHEA's most marked traditions. Over 75 students from the HRIM department donate their time to keep the ritual active in VEISHEA. In late March, students begin preparing for the sale by pressing dough and freezing pie crusts. Approximately 9,000 pies are made and expected to be sold until they are gone. The money that is raised from selling the pies goes towards a scholarship for the Hotel Restaurant Institution Management Program.

Making the Cherry Pies

The process of making the cherry pies involves three steps: making the crusts, cooking the cherry pie filling, and assembling the pies. From start to finish, the cherry pie making process takes a full month and a lot of hands.


Step 1: Making the pie crusts

The pie crusts are made and assembled in a couple of days. Students make the dough one day, and then press the dough into pie tins the following day. Once the dough is pressed into the tins, they are packaged and frozen until the day they are ready to assemble to cherry pies.


Step 2: Making the pie filling

Each cherry that is being used in the pies is hand inspected for stems and pits. The approximate amount of cherries that are used in the cherry pies every year is about 30 5-gallon buckets. Now that's a lot of cherries! The juice from the cherries is saved and used for the cherry syrup. Once the filling has cooked and thickened, the cherries are added and the filling is ready for assembling. This results in about 150 gallons of cherry filling.


Step 3: Assembling the cherry pies

Now the fun part, assembling all the pies! First, the crusts are thawed and baked, and then the cherry filling is added to the crusts. Next, there is a blocked off area in the kitchen where students add the final touch to the cherry pies, a dollop of whipped cream.


The First Cherry Pie Recipe

80 lbs Flour
50 lbs Shortening
30 gallons of Cherries
60 lbs Sugar
15 lbs Cornstarch
166 bricks of Ice Cream

The cherry pies were originally nine inches, compared to the three-inch tart that is served to this day. The pies got changed to three- inch tarts due to World War II and rationing of certain ingredients. This also changed the topping of the pies to whipped cream instead of ice cream.