Pucker up for 15 facts about key lime pie

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By Good Info News Wire

May 29, 2024

Get ready to pucker up and dive into the zesty world of Florida’s most iconic dessert: Key lime pie!

Whether you’re a lifelong Floridian or just a fan of decadent desserts, there’s no escaping the allure of this tangy treat. But there’s more to Key lime pie than just its deliciously tart flavor.

From its mysterious origins to its status as the official state pie, this dessert is steeped in history and full of surprises. So grab a fork (or maybe even a whole pie) and join us as we explore some fascinating facts about Florida’s favorite dessert. Trust us, you’ll be a key lime pie aficionado by the time you finish reading!

Origins of Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie reportedly originated in Key West, Florida, in the late 19th century. This classic American dessert features a graham-cracker or pastry crust, a yellow custard made primarily from egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and key lime juice, and is topped with either whipped cream or meringue. Its creation was likely influenced by the limited availability of fresh milk and refrigeration in the Florida Keys until the 1930s, making sweetened condensed milk a crucial ingredient.

Cultural significance

Key lime pie was designated the official pie of Florida in 2006, reflecting its deep-rooted connection to the state’s culinary heritage. It’s a staple in restaurants throughout the Florida Keys, even though the tart key limes used in the pie are no longer commercially grown in the region due to hurricanes and citrus canker. Many pies today are made with bottled juice or imported limes, but the essence of the traditional recipe remains intact.

Historical recipe

The roots of key lime pie can be traced to the “Magic Lemon Cream Pie” published by Borden (a condensed milk producer) in 1931, which featured condensed milk, lemon juice and rind, and egg yolks. The pie was covered with meringue, baked, and served cold. Over time, locals in Florida adapted this recipe to include key lime juice, creating the iconic pie we know today.

Early mentions

Various mentions of similar lime pies can be found in historical records. A “Tropical Lime Chiffon Pie” using egg yolks and condensed milk appeared in a Miami newspaper back in 1933, and an “icebox lime pie” was noted as a Florida Keys specialty in 1935. The first recorded recipe specifically named “Key Lime Pie” was published in 1940, although it had likely been enjoyed by locals for some time before then.

Aunt Sally legend

A popular, albeit unverified, story credits the invention of key lime pie to Aunt Sally, a cook for self-made millionaire William Curry in the late 19th century. According to legend, she created the dessert at the Curry Mansion Inn in Key West. While this tale adds a charming narrative to the pie’s history, the oldest mention of this story only dates back to 1995.

Key limes

Key limes, also known as Mexican or West Indies limes, are smaller and more yellow than the standard Persian limes. They are more aromatic and have a thinner rind, making them ideal for desserts. Commercial growing of key limes in Florida ceased after the 1926 Miami hurricane, and today they are typically imported from South or Central America.

Overhead photo of a Key lime pie.

Photo courtesy of American Heritage Chocolate via Unsplash.

State dessert

Despite its iconic status, key lime pie is not Florida’s official state dessert. That honor goes to strawberry shortcake, designated in 2022, recognizing Florida’s position as the second-largest producer of strawberries in the U.S. Nonetheless, key lime pie continues to be celebrated as a quintessential Floridian delicacy.


In 1965, Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr. proposed a law that would fine anyone $100 for advertising key lime pie made with anything other than key lime juice. Although the bill failed, it highlights the passion Floridians have for maintaining the authenticity of this beloved dessert.

Official recognition

In July 2006, key lime pie was declared the official state pie of Florida, triumphing over other contenders like pecan pie. This recognition solidified its status as a symbol of Florida’s rich culinary traditions and its importance to the state’s cultural identity.

Pop culture references

Key lime pie has made appearances in popular culture, notably in the television series “Dexter.” In the episode “Easy As Pie,” the character Camilla Figg requests the “perfect key lime pie” from the titular character, underscoring the dessert’s iconic status. If you’re a fan of “The Great British Baking Show,” you know that it’s one of judge Paul Hollywood’s favorite desserts. Additionally, there are at least 20 movies with the tag “key lime pie” on IMDb.

In the music world, the popularity of Jimmy Buffett’s song “Margaritaville” led to a range of branded products, including key lime pie filling mix.

Key Lime Pie Festival

Each July, key lime pie enthusiasts gather for the Key West Key Lime Festival, celebrating the Florida Keys’ citrus heritage with events like a pie-eating contest. This festival highlights the enduring popularity and cultural significance of key lime pie in the region.

Limequats, a fun hybrid

Did you know that there’s a hybrid fruit called the limequat, which is a cross between a key lime and a kumquat? This unique fruit combines the tartness of key limes with the sweetness of kumquats, creating a delightful flavor profile perfect for adventurous bakers.​

Historical challenges

The history of key lime pie is marked by challenges, including the 1926 Miami hurricane, which devastated key lime groves. This natural disaster forced growers to replace key limes with the hardier Persian limes, altering the landscape of lime cultivation in Florida.

Condensed milk’s role

The use of condensed milk in key lime pie is a practical adaptation due to the lack of fresh dairy and refrigeration in the Florida Keys during the 19th century. Gail Borden Jr.’s creation of sweetened condensed milk in 1853 was a game-changer, providing a stable, non-perishable ingredient that became a cornerstone of the pie’s recipe.

Tourism and Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie remains a significant draw for tourists visiting Florida. Its unique flavor and historical significance make it a must-try treat for visitors, contributing to the state’s culinary tourism and local pride.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Pucker up for 15 facts about key lime piePucker up for 15 facts about key lime pie

This story was generated in part by AI and edited by The Floricua staff.

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