A pie-full tradition


Moriah Smith/Iowa State Daily

Cherry pies are a tradition of Veishea.

Daniel Bush

One of the main attractions that brings people to the celebration of Veishea is the famous cherry pie, but with every tradition comes a beginning.

The tradition started in February 1920 as the cherry pies were given away to 2,000 people, according to “A Century of Home Economics at Iowa State University.”

“We are planning on making around 14,000 again this year,” said John Kramer, adviser of the Veishea Cherry Pie Committee 2013.

There are three steps in creating theses pies: make the crust, cook the filling and assemble the pie topped with whipped cream.

Although the three steps look simple, it really is a bit more tedious than it seems, said Jordin Robinson, marketing chair of the Veishea Cherry Pie Committee 2013.

“We hand-make everything, so we mix the filling, we mix the crust and press them and bake them ourselves,” Robinson said.

Veishea cherry pies were made as a 9-inch pie until the 1940s, then were switched to a tart form like today.

The tarts were pressed by hand up until the 1960s and ’70s, when large quantities came with the dough sheeter at Knapp-Storms Kitchen.

Back in 2007, the students made around 10,000 cherry pies with 30 5-gallon buckets of cherries, according to the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom website.

The committee ordered 55 30-pound buckets of cherries to make the 14,000 cherry pies for this year, said Sara Dickinson, senior chair of the VEISHEA Cherry Pie Committee 2013.

“Filling and crusts will be made at Knapp-Storm Dining on April 12 and 13, frozen, and then turned into the pies on Friday and Saturday of Veishea,” Kramer said.

Kelsey Youngblut, advertising chairwoman of the Veishea Cherry Pie Committee 2013, said they have a lot of volunteers due to the fact that some teachers give extra credit to students who volunteer.

“We have volunteers [helping] both Friday and Saturday the weekend we assemble them from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Youngblut said. “And then again when we sell them from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, the weekend of Veishea.”

The first bake sale made about $500.

Those sales went to the Ellen H. Richards Scholarship Fund, the Iowa Homemaker and the Constantinople Fund. Proceeds now are given to the Veishea Cherry Pie Scholarship Fund.

Pies were topped with ice cream until World War II instead of whipped cream, due to food rationing.

When Youngblut and Robinson were posed with the idea of ice cream on the cherry pies rather than whipped cream, both replied in the same fashion.

“I didn’t know it was actually ice cream in it to begin with,” Youngblut said.

Youngblut and Robinson gave their view of the tradition about the Veishea cherry pies.

“Since we have grown to such large production bringing back the ice cream would not be a feasible thing for us to do,” Dickinson said. “We like having our pies cost $1.”

Dickinson continued to say that if ice cream was incorporated again, they wouldn’t be able to keep the price as it is.

“Everyone should check out cherry pies,” Robinson said. “But I think everyone should at least experience a cherry pie.”

Youngblut echoed that statement while telling the story of her aunt who remembered the cherry pies from Veishea.

“It’s part of the tradition,” Youngblut said. “It’s like one of those things that people remember from Veishea.”