An Ode to TastyPies

TastyPies, shortly before they were devoured.

Eight days. That’s all time you have to consume a TastyPie once it leaves the warm confines of the Philadelphia-based Tasty Baking Company’s ovens.

Oh, sure, it’s still edible thereafter, but we’re talking about a fresh product here whose flavor profile changes as time takes its ravaging toll. It may be packaged to travel and sit on a shelf, but Philadelphia expats will tell you that the TastyPie they find on some drug store shelf three hundred miles from the bakery just isn’t the same as a TastyPie bought from a South Philly deli minutes after the distributor’s truck has rolled away.

Living a good two to three hours from Philadelphia, I try to stock up on TastyPies whenever I’m up there, drawing knowing stares from other travelers in 30th Street Station when I purchase ten at a time prior to catching a Northeast Regional home. Or, if I’ve bought the last Blueberry, cutting stares that threaten bodily harm.

What inspires this devotion, this hoarding instinct in otherwise rational adults? Just look at the packaging itself. No hiding of the pastry behind a wrapper with an idealized illustration—there it is, preening behind cellophane, cracks and flakes and all. Love me as I am, it cries.

TastyKake claims to make a quarter-million TastyPies a day, but they don’t look stamped out, like some widget on a press. TastyPies have character.

And once you get your stockpile, you have to eat them before they pass their peak of freshness. Difficult task, I know, but someone has to do it, and you’re almost certain to get volunteers to help.

Oh, I labor under no delusions about their nutritional upside, or lack thereof—health food this ain’t. But the shortening-rich flakiness of the crust, which often shows hints of delicious browning (and sometimes even charring) from the oven melds perfectly with whatever filling you’ve chosen. And the fillings!

Lemon, Apple, French Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Tasty-Klaire, Coconut Creme, Peach! Plus seasonals like Pumpkin Pie, Strawberry, and Cheesecake. Collect them all!

Even deciding what order to eat them in poses a delightful challenge. Start with a creme filling, then move to a fruit, or vice versa? All fruit then creme fillings? Frosted tops then plain?

Getting them closer to home has become less problematic thanks to the recent proliferation of Wawa‘s beyond their traditional Delaware Valley roots. For some reason, the TastyPies there always seem fresh, unlike some other outlets in the Metro DC region.

Or, of course, you could order them direct from TastyKake, though you pay a bit of a premium (about two and a quarter per pie) plus shipping. Worth it (if you plump for expedited shipping) for those far-flung TastyPie aficionados, I’m sure.

If you’ve never had a TastyPie, grab one the next time you see one. Just check the expiration date first. You can thank me later.

And for the record, I’m a Coconut Creme and Lemon man.

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