As American as Apple Pie Bombs


American institution or not, Nikita Khrushchev probably wasn’t impressed with the mysterious homemade apple pie he received during his first visit to the United States in 1959.

Though the visit was historic, many Americans were less than thrilled that the Russian Premier was on U.S. soil. With this knowledge in hand, Khrushchev’s security detail had instructions to be even more cautious than usual. When a rather large package arrived at the Soviet Mission headquarters in New York with “Pie-Perishable” handwritten on it, officers had cause to be alarmed. Using a portable X-ray machine to check out the contents of the parcel, the team was quite concerned to see what looked like wires inside. Immediately, all traffic in a six-block radius was cleared and a bomb squad took the pie to Rockaway Point in Queens to detonate what they assumed was the explosive device inside.

You can imagine how shocked the squad was when they carefully opened the package, ready for the worst, and found only a homemade apple pie, just as the inscription on the box said. What was originally believed to be wires was actually the chain to a necklace with a locket pendant etched with the Ten Commandments. It was sent by Virginia McCleary of Luling, Texas, who was amused by the hubbub surrounding the whole affair. When security contacted her, she told them it was simply pie. “It was the Ten Commandments that stirred everything up,” she later commented.

Other stops on Khrushchev’s trip were quite varied: he visited a farm in Iowa (pictured), a supermarket in San Francisco, Eleanor Roosevelt’s New York home, IBM’s headquarters, a steel mill in Pittsburgh, the Twentieth-Century Fox Studios, and finally met with President Eisenhower at Camp David. He intended to go to Disneyland but had to change plans when security wasn’t able to assure his safety there. Let’s hope he got to sample jewelry-free pie at some point during his visit.