There’s a whole classification of snacks that I think of as “convenience store food” – namely things I bought on walks to Lil’ Peach in Wakefield when I was a kid and $3 could buy a modest feast of processed junk my mother never would have purchased at Market Basket. My dream shopping list would have included Bugles, Cheetos, Bubble Tape, grape tonic, slush puppies, candy cigarettes, Corn Nuts…and Hostess Fruit Pies.
You are, of course, familiar with this last one.
Disgusting, right? They are basically hard glazed donut crusts filled with artificial fruit flavored gel, and have been around as part of the Hostess family of “desserts” since at least the early 70’s. Flavors have varied over the years. The official current selection includes apple, cherry, pineapple, lemon, blackberry, strawberry, peach, and “French apple” (I have no idea what that means but I am picturing the same thing as regular apple, only with the label in cursive and maybe a creamier filling). There seems to be a difference in flavor availability based on geographical location. People go nuts trying to track these things down. I am serious. There are entire message board threads.
With my adult eyes I can now see what was clearly the best feature of the Hostess Fruit Pie – its mascot from 1973 to 2006. It (he, really) was an actual fruit pie in a top hat with a cape and wand, and was aptly titled “Fruit Pie the Magician”.
It never makes sense to me when a food company features the product itself in ads…as in, “Hello, I am a fruit pie only talking and wearing clothing and I want you to eat me. I sacrifice myself for your eating pleasure!” It’s especially disturbing in the Perdue chicken ads. I’d like to see part 2 of those ads, when things get messy.
Fruit Pie the Magician was described by Hostess as the magician who “loves to entertain friends with his wacky magic tricks. His favorite magic trick is to make Hostess fruit pies appear out of the air. You always have to keep an eye on the magician or else he may play a trick on you.” What is there to watch out for if his favorite trick is producing pies in his own likeness for you to eat? I don’t know what happened in 2006 that made Hostess perform the final trick of making Fruit Pie disappear, but I decided I wanted to make my own version of a hand held pie at home with no trace of the high fructose corn syrup, lard, and artificial flavors of the snack pies of my youth.
Here is what I came up with:
I went with blueberry. Hostess actually stopped making their pies in blueberry, so these had no real taste-test competition, but they were delicious. My wonderful step-dad (and enormous blueberry pie fan) Arthur received these as a thank you for helping me with my air conditioner, computer, and probably (definitely) a few other things. I went to Vermont with some friends for Fourth of July and brought along another batch of blueberry, but also a few with a peach/raspberry filling. They were also buttery, fruity and delicious.
Making them is easy. You just need pie dough, fruit, and a little sugar and cornstarch. Sanding sugar is optional. Take advantage of summer’s berry crop at your local farmer’s market and make your own. I bet you could even use jam and make a version that looks more like a “toaster pastry”.
I should also probably state for the record that I still eat and enjoy Corn Nuts…I just buy the bulk kind at Whole Foods.