Tomorrow is that most blessed of holidays, one that is neither religious nor patriotic, one that Hallmark can’t capitalize on, one that doesn’t demand an expensive dinner or a hellish bar crawl. It’s Pi Day, and anyone looking to observe this holiday need only seek out and consume their favorite pie. This year, Google Trends has some new data shedding light on exactly which pies those might be.
A brief history of Pi Day
If you enjoy a slice of free or discounted pie this week, sweet or savory, you owe your thanks to Larry Shaw. The late physicist is credited with inventing Pi Day, held on March 14 each year in recognition of π (~3.14), the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Though you probably don’t need to make any π-related calculations in your daily life, it provides us all with an annual occasion on which to nosh, so don’t look a gift mathematical constant in the mouth.
Shaw first developed Pi Day all the way back in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium, setting out a table of pies and tea at 1:59 p.m. in a playful continuation of pi’s digits (3.14159...). The initial purpose was, it seems, simply to nerd out about an important math thing. Each year the celebration got bigger and more elaborate—who wouldn’t want to recognize such a purely joyful holiday?—and in 2009 the House of Representatives officially designated March 14 as Pi Day in support of mathematics education.
These days, chain restaurants nationwide have hopped on board the celebrations, offering discounts, freebies, and sweepstakes in recognition of Pi Day. All in all, the appeal of this holiday is as straightforward as pi is complex.
The most popular pies, state by state
Google Trends has crunched the numbers, analyzing all pie-related searches from March 7, 2022 to March 6, 2023. Here’s a breakdown of which pies each state was searching for the most during that time:
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That’s a whole lot of pumpkin and apple pie, isn’t it? In fact, most of the pies represented on this map—apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan—are associated with Thanksgiving. Since the data set includes the entire calendar year’s searches, you can see just how much food-related Googling tends to spike at the holidays as everyone searches for recipes.
It seems that only Kentucky is enlightened enough to prefer my own favorite dessert: peanut butter pie. My family’s recipe for no-bake peanut butter pie with chocolate sauce drizzled on top is the only birthday cake I’ll ever need. Tennessee, meanwhile, bucked trends in a different manner, opting for chess pie, an uncomplicated custard dessert that tends to be less divisive than, say, sweet potato or pecan.
But what about the searches most relevant to Pi Day itself? To determine which pies get the most love in March, Google Trends has also provided data on the top pies searched in the past 30 days:
- Butter pie
- Macaroni pie
- Pizza pie
- Oatmeal pie
- Beef pot pie
- No bake peanut butter pie
- Steak and ale pie
- Butterscotch pie
- Rhubarb pie
- Chocolate mousse pie
This list is a much richer tapestry, offering a glimpse at the wide world of pies that make up our dinner and dessert landscape. The presence of beef pot pie, steak and ale pie, and butter pie indicates that our pie preferences are at least partially informed by the stubbornly cold weather plaguing most of the country this spring. And no bake peanut butter pie is probably just on the list because it’s the best, period.
Now, as we all know, searching for a pie doesn’t necessarily equate to consuming a pie. But it certainly demonstrates the desire for pie, and for those curious Googlers out there, we have a number of recipes that might satisfy, whether you’re craving something sweet or savory:
- 30-Minute Personal Shepherd’s Pie
- Oatmeal Marshmallow Cream Pie, a copycat Little Debbie treat
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pudding Pie, a little bit of everything delicious in this world
- Chicken Parm Pot Pie, a delightfully unhinged dinner behemoth
- Chocolate Custard Pie, a from-scratch challenge that calls for just as much butter as you’re hoping
- Mock Apple Pie, a Ritz cracker imitation you have to taste to believe
- And, of course, Pi Day Pie, which is 3.14 flavors in one!
Happy Pi Day, everyone. Let us know your plans for this sacred holiday.