Cherry Pie
Cherry Pie | Photo Credit: Wikimedia - Benny Mazur
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Traverse City has long been noted as the “Cherry Capital of the World” for its abundant cherry farms, but in 1987, the city made cherry pie history. The story begins with a rivalry between two cities and a determined bakery with a goal of claiming a world record. The cherry pie feud resulted in two large, tasty pies being created and thousands of spectators to enjoy them. Today, all that remains is a pan but it’s story is forever embedded into the local culture.

About

The battle for the record of “World’s Largest Cherry Pie” began in 1976, in Charlevoix, Michigan (about 50 miles north of Traverse City). Dave Phillips had an idea that he believed would put Charlevoix and its annual cherry festival on the map. He convinced local businesses and farmers to help build a large pie pan, huge oven and plenty of cherries and sugar to create the enormous dessert. At completion, the pie was 17,420 pounds, landing it a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Just 11 years later, Chef Pierre Bakeries of Traverse City decided to challenge nearby Charlevoix’s title. While both cities annually hosted a cherry festival, Traverse City was looking to expand their festival and bring new attention to the event. The bakery recruited the local Jacklin Steel Supply Company to create a cherry pie pan that would be 18 feet wide and 26 inches deep! Assembling all of the resources, the bakery then called for volunteers.

On the warm summer day of July 25, 1987, Traverse City made pie history. With over a hundred volunteers, the bakery was able to prep all of the ingredients and then use an assembly line style production method to fill the giant pan. Buckets of sweet pie filling were sent down the line and dumped into the pan until it was full. It is said that over 500 buckets were filled. Once the pan was filled with filling, a giant sheet of crust topped the pie. After baking the large pie, the final weight was 28,350 pounds, which defeated Charlevoix’s old record. The city celebrated its accomplishment by serving the pie to over 35,000 people who were in attendance. Though the pie could not simply be sliced and served. A giant tube was placed into the pie which sucked out filling and small morsels of crust were scattered across the top to be served.

Hearing of the new record, the City of Charlevoix fought to keep their title. They stated that the pie created in Traverse City did not have a bottom crust, as did theirs. However, the Guinness World Records still granted Traverse City the title and the pie pan was cleaned and placed on display for tourists and locals to snap a picture with.

While Charlevoix and Traverse City were feuding over the record title, a bakery in Canada claimed the title. In July of 1990, the final world record cherry pie was baked. The result was a 37,721 pound pie, thus leaving the title to a bakery in Oliver, British Columbia. However, this bakery failed to keep the pie pan.

Even though Traverse City lost the title of “World’s Largest Cherry Pie”, it still has the record of being home to the “World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan”. However, there has been rumors of potentially baking a new, larger pie to reclaim the world record, but time will tell.

World's Largest Cherry Pie Pan, Traverse City, Michigan
“World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan”, Traverse City, Michigan | Photo Credit: Shutterstock – EWY Media

Plan Your Visit

The “World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan” is located at 3424 Cass Road in Traverse City, Michigan. The pie pan is free to visit and makes a great photo opportunity.

If you are interested in attending the Cherry Festival, it is held each year in July. The festival boasts many vendors, cherry inspired sweets and foods, live music and so much more.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Traverse City before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

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