Indulging in a slice of Key Lime Pie is like taking a bite out of sunshine.  The zesty, tangy flavor paired with a luscious graham cracker crust has made this iconic dessert a favorite among many.  However, the history of Key Lime Pie is as layered as its delightful taste, with a debate swirling around its true place of origin – Florida or New York?

 To trace the roots of Key Lime Pie, we must first explore the origins of its star ingredient – the key lime.  Key limes, smaller and more aromatic than regular limes, were cultivated in the Florida Keys and throughout the Caribbean.  Florida locals argue that the dessert’s name is a nod to the small, tart key limes that were abundant in the area.  The most widely accepted theory attributes the creation of Key Lime Pie to the shores of Florida, specifically the Key West region. 

Additionally, the story goes that early settlers in the region lacked access to refrigeration, leading them to create a simple yet delicious no-bake pie using the readily available ingredients of sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and key lime juice.  The first known recipe for a Lime Pie appeared in a 1931 cookbook by Mrs. H. Griner, a Key West resident, featuring a filling made with lime juice, eggs, and sweetened condensed milk.

A popular anecdote in support of Florida’s claim involves the legendary writer Ernest Hemingway.  It is said that his chef at the time, Aunt Sally, perfected the Key Lime Pie recipe and served it at his home in Key West.  The Hemingway House in Key West continues to serve a version of the pie, further cementing its ties to the Sunshine State.

Contrary to the Floridian narrative, some believe that Key Lime Pie originated in the kitchens of New York.  This argument suggests that the pie was a creation of the Borden Company, a New York-based condensed milk manufacturer.  The company allegedly popularized the recipe by printing it on cans of sweetened condensed milk, helping the dessert gain widespread popularity.

Critics of the Floridian claim often point to the fact that early versions of Key Lime Pie were referred to as “icebox pies.”  This terminology, they argue, aligns more closely with Northern traditions of making chilled, no-bake pies, adding weight to the argument that the pie has its roots in New York.

The history of Key Lime Pie is a tantalizing blend of flavor and controversy. Whether you believe it was born in the sweltering heat of Florida or the bustling kitchens of New York, one thing is certain – Key Lime Pie has become a beloved dessert that we serve here at Pawley’s Raw Bar. So, the next time you savor a slice, take a moment to appreciate the sweet mystery that surrounds this iconic treat, as its true origin remains as elusive as the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness in every bite.

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