Celebrate National Boston Cream Pie Day by Trying the Original Recipe

iStock/bhofack2
iStock/bhofack2

Every October 23, Bostonians, bakers, and dessert aficionados across the country celebrate National Boston Cream Pie Day. But keep in mind that when you're whipping up your own favorite version, you might not have the original recipe on hand.

The dessert was first dished out in October 1856 at Boston’s Parker House–a historic hotel on Boston’s Freedom Trail that’s now known as the Omni Parker House. Sold in Parker’s Restaurant, the cake was referred to as “Chocolate Cream Pie.” What distinguished the cake from other restaurant fare was its innovative use of chocolate icing—a rarity at the time, since chocolate was mostly used in drinks and puddings. In any case, the sweet treat became so sought after that it was made into a Betty Crocker boxed mix in 1958, and sold until the 1990s.

In 1996, the Boston Cream Pie was named the official dessert of Massachusetts, cementing its place in our cookbooks—and taste buds—for good. But over time, the recipe has been changed and varied by countless bakers.

You’ve likely encountered a version of Boston Cream Pie that’s similar to a Washington pie, which is a two-layer, jam-filled yellow cake covered with confectioner’s sugar. (In this adaptation, the jam is swapped out for pastry cream.) There are fruit-filled and caramel-drizzled sweets, and you’ve most likely encountered Boston Cream Pie doughnuts, cheesecakes, and yogurts as well. But if you're hankering for the real thing, you can scope out the original recipe—which will yield two layers of golden sponge cake separated by pastry cream and covered with chocolate fondant and toasted almonds—over at the Omni Parker House website.

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The Clever Reason Oranges Are Sold in Red Mesh Bags

Gingagi/iStock via Getty Images
Gingagi/iStock via Getty Images

If a detail in a food's packaging doesn't seem to serve a practical purpose, it's likely a marketing tactic. One example is the classic mesh bag of oranges seen in supermarket produce sections. When oranges aren't sold loose on the shelf, they almost always come in these red, mesh bags. The packaging may seem plain, but according to Reader's Digest, it's specially designed to make shoppers want to buy the product.

The color orange "pops" when paired with the color red more so than it does with yellow, green, or blue. That means when you see a bunch of oranges behind a red net pattern, your brain assumes they're more "orange" (and therefore fresher and higher quality) than it would if you saw them on their own. That's the same reason red is chosen when making bags for fruits like grapefruits or tangerines, which are also orange in color.

For lemon packaging, green is more commonly chosen to make the yellow rind stand out. If lemons were sold in the same red bags as other citrus, the red and yellow hues together would actually make the fruits appear orange. Lemons can also come in yellow mesh bags, and the bags for limes are usually green to match their color.

Next time you visit the supermarket, see if you can spot the many ways the store is set up to influence your buying decisions. The items at eye-level will likely be more expensive than those on the shelves above and below them, and the products near the register will likely be cheaper and more appealing as impulse buys. Check out more sneaky tricks used by grocery stores here.

[h/t Reader's Digest]